‘No reason for ‘Axeman’ memory loss’

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Durban - There was no reason why the alleged Durban axe murderer, Joseph Phindile Ntshongwana - a former Blue Bulls rugby player - should have no memory about the alleged crimes, the Durban High Court heard on Thursday.

“There was no neurological basis for this,” specialist psychiatrist Dr John Dunn told the court.

Ntshongwana has denied four counts of murder, two of attempted murder, kidnapping, raping a woman and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Various psychiatrists have testified that while Ntshongwana had a mental illness, it was not to the degree that he was unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of the alleged offences.

The defence contends that the allegations against the accused are because of mental illness.

A previous hearing was told by psychiatrist Professor Abubuker Gangat, called for the defence, that Ntshongwana was suffering from a delusional disorder and that the delusions had come “thick and fast”, making him lose touch with reality.

Dunn, who has worked at Fort Napier Hospital for 37 years, said he had never heard of the term “thick and fast”, and that it had no meaning for him.

“I fail to see one could have a hailstorm of false beliefs… it is difficult to know what he is trying to convey.”

Dunn said he would be interested to know what communication took place between the accused and Gangat to make him conclude that the accused was suffering from delusions that came “thick and fast”.

Dunn was on the panel which assessed Ntshongwana after his arrest. He said that he and his colleagues had not been aware of any information about delusions in relation to the charges which were denied.

Asked by prosecutor Rea Mina if the accused’s amnesia about the alleged crimes was genuine or not, he pointed out that the procedure at examinations involving people facing criminal charges was to tell them about their rights. The psychiatrists were not there to interrogate them, and it was up to those accused to divulge what they wanted the doctors to know.

Asked about selective memory, he said this was a form of psychogenic amnesia, a repressive mechanism preventing a person being aware of events which were traumatic in some way.

Another possibility was a suppression of a memory, which might be a way of saying that the person was not willing to apply his or her mind to it.

Ntshongwana has been charged with murdering Thembelenkosini Cebekhulu, Paulos Hlongwa and Simon Ngidi and an unidentified man in March, 2011.

The case will continue on Friday.

Sapa and Daily News



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