Durban — The police were called but never pitched to diffuse the situation at the Chetty house before five people died in a house that was set alight.
This was the testimony of Kista Chetty's neighbour on Wednesday in the Durban High Court.
Chetty is on trial charged with 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 son Aldrin.
At the time of the incident, the family lived in a bedroom that 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 house.
His neighbour Vikash Singh said that police only arrived when the fire had almost been put out by residents.
‘’Had the police come, none of this would have happened. I was hoping the police would come and calm the situation down. If they had come, the accused and his family could still be together. I called the police because it was the first time I had heard them (Chetty and his wife) fight like they were that night.’’
Singh told the court how, on that day, there was some argument between the accused and wife from about 12.30 in the afternoon.
He explained that he was not sure what the argument was about, but he could hear there was an argument going on from the abusive language that was being used.
‘’The wife was upset. After that, she went out somewhere, and so did the accused. The wife came back, and the accused and Deon were having an argument at that time, around 4.30 pm and 5.30pm. There was a fight going on. The accused and Deon were outside fighting, and there was abusive language. I did not see physically what was happening, but from what I could hear, there was a fight going on.
‘’After that, things quieted down. The wife was taken away by her friends, and she came back around 8.30 and thanked us for looking after the kids. She said she was going to sleep. We went to bed, and between 11.00 pm and 11.15 pm, again the accused was outside, banging doors, the burglar guards with a bush knife and scraping walls.’’
He said Chetty was arguing with his wife because he wanted money from her and to take his clothes.
‘’He told them he would kill them when his wife refused to open the door. He was using abusive language. I think he said I will kill you. I started phoning the police, because there was a disturbance going on. Out of anger, people can say anything. At the time, I didn't think anything like that was going to happen.’’
Singh said he phoned the police for the safety of the children and family, but they never arrived.
‘’The accused left, everything was quiet, and he returned at about 1.45am. The accused then had access to the house. We could hear the door open. From there, I could hear that things were quiet again, and then the next thing, everybody was screaming fire, fire, fire. The accused banged on my door, asking for water. That's when I knew there was really a fire.
‘’I swore at him. I was angry at the disturbance, and I assumed that he started the fire because of his behaviour earlier.
We couldn't get water, my tap was not working, everything was dark, and there was no electricity because of the fire.’’
Singh said they all ran outside and all tried to help put the fire out from behind where the family was.
‘’The accused was nowhere to be seen. I never saw him after that until today.’’
The trial continues.
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