Durban - Sagren Govindasamy attended every single day of the trial of the man who murdered his wife and two children, and had to endure listening to details of all of his wife’s infidelities.
On Thursday he was again in the gallery to hear Colin Pillay, 47, being convicted of the murders of Jane Govindasamy and her two daughters, Denisha, 22 and Nikita, 16.
Details of how his wife invited Pillay into their home when he was at work, that he regularly picked up his wife from work, and that his daughters knew about his wife’s affair of nine years, were all laid bare in the public domain.
A glimpse of relief was evident on Govindasamy’s face when Pillay was found guilty, and faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for each murder.
Govindasamy then took the witness stand to testify in aggravation of sentence. Although still overwhelmed with pain from his loss, he spoke with confidence and began by saying that he had forgiven his wife.
“I have forgiven her. As humans we all make mistakes. We were happy. We lived together as a happy family. My kids had a bright future ahead of them.
“The week before their murders, my wife and I were happy. That evening she called me as she was watching TV; she just wanted me to hold her. We spent the night together,” he said.
Govindasamy said his life had been a living hell since the murders and is at a standstill.
“I lost everything: my family and a home. I have since moved in with my mother. This year I almost lost my job because I was too distraught to get out of bed to work. I pray that the court will take into consideration the brutality in the murders of my family. We don’t know the reason he killed them. People like him are a danger to society.”
Judge Zaba Nkosi found Pillay’s version of events was not reasonably true and therefore rejected it. He said Pillay’s alibi that he was out gambling when the murders happened was false.
Although there were no witnesses and the state had relied on circumstantial evidence, it had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt that Pillay was the man who murdered Jane and her daughters.
“The forensic DNA evidence puts you at the murder scene. Four blood stains were found. While some blood had your DNA, two matched Nikita. You could not explain how Nikita’s blood got on to your clothes if you did not kill Jane and her daughters,” he said.
State senior advocate Cheryl Naidu’s case was that Denisha had not approved of Jane and Pillay’s relationship when she moved back into the family home. This made it difficult for Pillay to see Govindsamy.
Cellphone records suggest that communication between Jane and Pillay had stopped about five days before the murders, which suggested there was some conflict between them. Pillay had tried to communicate with Jane on the day of the incident.
Judge Nkosi said when Pillay tried to rekindle their relationship by sending Jane messages on the morning of the incident, at first the messages were romantic, like when he asked her if she was dressed warmly. However, Jane only responded to that message and not to others, and Pillay got angry.
Judge Nkosi said the messages did not show a complete picture, but it appeared Jane was ignoring Pillay for some reason
“Unfortunately she is not here to explain her reasons. Her behaviour that morning suggests things were not what they used to be. Pillay also could not provide the court with an explanation for why they were distant.”
Amanda Hurley, Pillay’s attorney, had submitted that if Jane and Pillay had problems, and Pillay had threatened her, she would not have allowed him to take her daughters to tutorials.
Judge Nkosi said it seemed that Jane did not care about Pillay’s caring gestures.
In mitigation of sentence, Pillay told the court that he was widowed and that his wife had committed suicide 15 years ago, apparently at the instigation of a tokoloshe.