Durban — Family members of the Phoenix father whose sentencing was imminent after he was convicted for the murders of his wife, three children and nephew, went up to hug the accused before he walked back down into the grids of the Durban High Court.
Kista Chetty was found guilty on Monday by Judge Carol Sibiya of 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.
The five died in a fire that was started in the room of the home they had been in. Chetty deliberately started the fire.
At the time of the incident, the family lived in a bedroom that they rented in 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 home.
“He’s a very good person. He’s not a violent person. He is always there for his family and children. He goes out to work in the cold, in the wind, and in the rain to provide for his children. Even with what happened, he wanted to kill himself, but unfortunately, it went the wrong way. Look at how his children here are crying,” said Chetty’s sister, Charmaine Pillay, outside court.
Delivering her verdict, Sibiya said it was difficult to deal with a matter of an accused charged with murder in relation to his family.
Sibiya ruled that the murders were premeditated.
“The main issue to be determined is whether the accused, in setting fire, had the intention to kill the occupants of the house and whether he had planned the murder. The onus is on the State to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The important issue is intention at the time of setting the fire.”
Sibiya said that Chetty’s counsel, in its address on dolus eventualis, had said the accused’s state of mind was not known at the time when the fire started.
Dolus eventualis speaks to the principle that a person can be convicted of murder if they foresaw the possibility of their actions resulting in the death of someone but continued regardless.
“It’s correct that no one knows the mind of the accused. This must be determined by actions not after but at the time he set the fire. When the accused opened the door to get help, the fire was already raging. Given that the container had not exploded, one can only wonder why the fire was raging.
“It is common for people after they see the consequences of their actions to reject them. The court is satisfied that he set the fire with the intention to kill the deceased with the people inside the house. The murders were premeditated as he was very angry that evening. The accused did exactly what he had threatened to do,” said Sibiya.
The matter was adjourned to Friday for the court to be updated on the process of getting pre-sentencing reports, which Chetty’s defence requested and for possible arguments on mitigation and aggravation of sentence.
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