Durban — The Phoenix man who allegedly burnt his whole family in November 2021 pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in the Durban High Court to killing his wife and children. Kista Sergie Chetty, 51, said he never intended to cause the death of his wife and children.
Chetty is facing five counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder and arson. In his plea explanation, he said that on that day there was a fight between him and his brother-in-law, Deon Pillay, who was residing with them. He said he had to leave home to diffuse the situation. He said when he left home he took a bush knife as the area is not safe.
“I also intended to go to the township of Bhambayi to see my friends,” he said.
Chetty said he had a few drinks in the afternoon with his friends. He asked them if he could sleep there but they could not accommodate him. He then went to a cousin of his wife and Pillay by the name of Kevin. However, Kevin could not accommodate him and advised that he go back to his house. He said when he went back to his home it was locked, so he banged on the door and shouted for his family to open it for him.
“Adelle (deceased female child) opened for me and asked me to give her the bush knife, and I gave it to her. Pillay was asleep and I went to my wife. I told her that I had to leave my house to go and beg other people for a place to sleep because Pillay was causing problems in our marriage. I told her I was better off dead,” said Chetty.
He said after that he poured petrol into the cap of a 5l container and poured it on his clothes and his chest.
“I then lit a spot on my chest using a lighter and it immediately caught alight,” he said.
He said his wife screamed and that was when he took off his top, which was on fire, and it landed on the 5l container full of petrol. He said his wife, who was with the children in the room, froze and the children were behind her, but Adelle exited the room.
The brother-in-law, who is a witness, said they got into a fight with Chetty after he tried to hit his sister with a bottle.
“I pulled my sister behind me and we fought. However, we stopped because the children were screaming,” he said.
He described the fight as ugly as they swore at each other. He further said when Chetty came back from his friends he tried to chop the door with a bush knife. He said at this time he had been sleeping but woke up. However, once Chetty was inside the house he went back to sleep.
“After a while, I heard screaming. We saw the flames shoot out.”
However, Pillay contradicted him when the State prosecutor, advocate Krishen Shah, asked him where Chetty was when they saw the fire.
He first said he could not remember where he was and then said he was aiding them to put out the fire.
There were 12 people in the house, including Pillay, a landlord and her daughter, who survived.
When Pillay was testifying he looked uncomfortable and advocate Shah kept reassuring him that he could talk and that he understood that it was not easy as he had a close relationship with Chetty.
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