Durban — Kista Chetty was found guilty of the murders of his wife, three children, and his nephew by the Durban High Court on Monday.
Judge Carol Sibiya also found Chetty guilty of six attempted murders as well as arson.
The judge ruled that the 2021 murders of his wife Elisha Naidoo, 39, his 13-year-old daughter Jadene, his 9-year-old son Jordan, 8-year-old daughter Aarav and his 3-year-old nephew Aldrin were premeditated.
At the time of the incident, the family lived in a bedroom they rented at a house on Kidstone Place in Phoenix.
Chetty’s brother-in-law, Deon Naidoo, and others lived in the lounge of the same house; there were 12 of them in total living in the house.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him by the State, including arson.
Chetty’s evidence was that he had taken the cap of a 5-litre container that had petrol in it, poured some of it into the cap of the container, and emptied the contents of the lid onto his stomach over his shirt.
He then lit his T-shirt from the hem, and when his wife screamed that he was on fire, he quickly took his T-shirt off and threw it on the ground, without realising it had landed on the 5-litre container.
He said his intention was to kill himself by setting himself alight after he had an argument with his wife.
This had been after an earlier physical fight with Deon, following which Chetty was pushed out of the house by his wife and daughter and locked out.
He returned later that night, asking to be let into the house. The door was opened for him and once in the bedroom, he said, he decided to kill himself.
Chetty did not want his brother’s wife living with them, as the brother would often make monetary contributions to the house but would later demand for his money back from his sister and she would give in to the demand.
He and his wife often argued over this, and Chetty also got into arguments with Deon.
“The accused knew setting the fire while inside the house was dangerous,” said Judge Sibiya.
“Even in his version, the accused knew the consequences of setting himself on fire inside the house … Evidence of the accused is far-fetched and disregarded. He changed his evidence, and his injuries are inconsistent with his evidence and that of the expert.“
The judge said that there was overwhelming evidence that the fire was deliberately set.
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