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Trial of man accused of setting family alight nears its end

Kista Chetty is on trial in the Durban High Court for the murders of his wife, three children and nephew.

Kista Chetty is on trial in the Durban High Court for the murders of his wife, three children and nephew.

Published Aug 29, 2023


Durban – The trial against Kista Chetty who faces five counts of murder and six of attempted murder is nearing its end.

On Monday the State rested after Chetty's defence finished cross-examining its last witness. The defence then began presenting its case to the court and Chetty took the stand.

Chetty is 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 nephew 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 same house. There were 12 people living in the house.

Under cross-examination, fire expert Warrant Officer Siphelele Simphiwe Dube maintained that the fire in which Chetty’s family perished was started deliberately.

“He intentionally burnt the deceased,” said Dube.

He had been responding to Chetty’s Legal Aid attorney, Musa Chiliza, who had asked if, based on his findings, he excluded the possibility that Chetty was attempting to commit suicide.

Evidence that the court has heard so far was that the fire spread in the room after Chetty set himself alight with the intention of ending his life.

“I explained before that he was within the vapour cloud when the ignition of the vapours occurred. Those injuries in the photos are consistent with what I have explained to the court. Suicide can be excluded,” said Dube.

After Dube’s cross-examination, the State closed its case and led his evidence in chief.

It was during this time that Chiliza asked Chetty to comment on Dube’s evidence that he had set the fire intending to kill his family.

“I caused the fire to myself, to kill myself. I can’t kill my wife and kids, I love them too much.”

The trial continues.

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