Durban - Fifteen years after being acquitted in the sensational R31.4 million SBV robbery, a Durban businessman now faces possible life imprisonment for murder after a nine-year-old girl and her grandmother were killed in a hand grenade attack while sleeping.
Yegen Naidoo, 44, was on Monday found guilty of the December 2006 murders of nine-year-old Yetska Michaela Pillay of Reservoir Hills and her grandmother, Patricia Bangar Pillay, 53, of Mpumalanga.
The Malvern businessman was also convicted for the attempted murder of Yetska’s father, Kevin Pillay, 41, and his sister, Daphne Simone Pillay, 21, as well as conspiracy to commit murder and possession of explosives.
Naidoo had sold the grenade to two killers and lent them his car to go to Nelspruit.
On December 23, 2006, Yetska had been spending the Christmas holidays with her father, Kevin, at his Nelspruit home, when a grenade was thrown into the room in which she had been sleeping. It exploded next to her bed, killing her and her grandmother.
Her parents were divorced and she had lived with her mother in Reservoir Hills.
In 2010, Zameer Achmed Khan, 51, of Moorton, Chatsworth and hit man, Mohammed Ismael Khan, of Belfort in the Eastern Cape, were sentenced to life imprisonment for premeditated murder.
Mohammed had confessed that he had been hired by Zameer to throw the grenade into the house. He said Zameer believed his estranged girlfriend, Verusha Govender, was in the house and he had wanted to kill her.
They received a further sentence of 20 years each for attempted murder and are serving their concurrent sentences at the Westville and Barberton prisons.
In passing judgment in the Nelspruit High Court yesterday, Judge Ronel Tolmay said it was clear that Naidoo had conspired with Zameer Achmed Khan to blast the house.
They would have foreseen that such planned action would have resulted in death, she said.
Naidoo’s bail of R100 000 was revoked and he was remanded in custody in the Nelspruit prison.
He is expected back in court for sentencing on May 29.
After being on the run for a year, Naidoo handed himself to the Hawks in Durban last year, after a warrant for his arrest issued in Nelspruit.
During Zameer and Mohammed’s trial, it emerged that Naidoo was linked to the fatal grenade attack.
Naidoo was accused of leading a Durban-based gang, Bad Company, and organising the hit.
Mohammed had told the court he had been instructed by Zameer and Naidoo - his gang leader - to throw the grenade, for which Zameer had paid Naidoo R5 000.
Mohammed was paid R2 000.
During his testimony, Kevin Pillay had said he had been threatened on several occasions by Zameer who had accused him of harbouring Govender. He said he had told Zameer he did not know anyone by that name, but he had persisted with his threats.
The arrests were made after months of investigation by the Durban Organised Crime Unit.
Naidoo and Zameer were arrested by Lieutenant Mukesh Panday and Mohammed by Warrant Officer Ajith Ganesh Singh.
During Zameer and Mohammed’s trial, Judge A Makgoba praised the team for ensuring the accused were brought to book.
He said in his 35 years on the Bench, he had never come across such a brutal killing. Judge Makgoba said death by bombings was reported in places such as the Middle East but not here in South Africa. He said the murders were premeditated and described the two as cowards.