Durban - A KwaDakuza man says his girlfriend doused herself in petrol and set herself alight, while her family is adamant that he was responsible for the woman’s death.
Niresh Singh is on trial in the Durban High Court for the murder of Trisha Naidoo two years ago.
“She always had a smile on her face. It’s been difficult for us. We miss her very much,” said Leevash Ramlakan, one of the first people on the scene at Naidoo’s KwaDukuza home.
Ramlakan, Naidoo’s cousin, said she often called them over to her house for little get-togethers.
“She was always laughing, she was the life of the party. Her son clearly misses his mother.”
Singh, who pleaded not guilty to Naidoo’s murder, is alleged to have doused her with petrol, setting her alight and locking her in the toilet.
However, the burning Naidoo managed to escape from the toilet into the adjoining bathroom, where she tried to put out the flames engulfing her by standing under a running shower.
Her sister Nikita testified that she ran to Naidoo’s house when she learnt that the couple were fighting.
“While running there I could hear her screaming. She was shouting, ‘Help, help, I’m burning!’”
Nikita said there was smoke lingering when she got into the house and she could hear Naidoo upstairs screaming for help, while Singh sat on a sofa downstairs.
“Upstairs I found her under a running shower,” said Nikita, adding that smoke still lingered over her sister’s hair and body.
“She said to me, ‘Look at what Niresh did to me’, and she asked me for some ice,” she said.
Nikita said Singh followed her up the stairs when she returned with the ice and stopped halfway to the bathroom.
“He (Singh) was screaming from where he was, telling Trisha not to tell me that it was him when, in fact, she had done this to herself, and Trisha shouted at him to get out of the bathroom.”
A neighbour helped her get Naidoo into a dress and the pair walked her downstairs to take her to hospital. All the while Singh sat in the lounge.
“At the hospital, she (Naidoo) was on a lot of machines. I spoke to her the next day and she asked me to look after her son. I told her nothing would happen to her. That was the last day we spoke to her.”
Nikita described Naidoo and Singh’s relationship as an abusive one, marred by arguments over money, that Singh, who was unemployed at the time, used to regularly ask for from her sister.
In a statement read out in court, Singh alleged that he and Naidoo argued after she accused him of having been to see his wife, whom he left in about 2010/2011.
“I sat on the top of the steps leading to the toilet and bedroom and waited to use the toilet. While I was there I heard a loud explosion from inside the toilet,” said Singh.
He said the toilet door came off the hinges and inside he saw Naidoo on fire.
He ran downstairs to get ice. When he returned, he found her in the shower.
Singh said Naidoo’s brother and cousin came into the couple’s home soon after that and began assaulting him in the lounge.
The trial continues.