Letter: Parole – when leniency mitigates justice

Kevin Govender. Picture supplied

Kevin Govender. Picture supplied

Published Apr 12, 2023


If I had to write a book on the release of convicted killers into the South African parole system , I would call it “Demon’s Homecoming” but that can wait for now as Oscar Pistorius and Donovan Moodley’s parole applications were denied this past week. Personally, my interpretation of parole is when leniency mitigates justice, softens it and introduces the variable of mercy. It’s a second chance in life.

However I do not support the narrative and I share the silent joy and tears with the Steenkamp and Matthews families at this reprieve. At least for now.

Red roses are synonymous with Valentine’s Day but Oscar Pistorius turned it into a bloodbath in 2013 when he shot his girlfriend through a toilet door several times. He claimed it was a mistake. His parole hearing too was a mistake, with some authorities claiming it should not have taken place, not until another one and half years.

Donovan Moodley was sentenced to life in imprisonment for the 2004 abduction and murder of student Leigh Matthews. After extorting R50 000 from Leigh’s father in a ransom demand, he shot her and dumped her body in the veld.

But the mother of all killers must be the so-called Third Son of God, Mathew Naidoo, who was sentenced to two life terms in 2008 for the killings of Westville couple Rickie and Johan Lottery. It’s an intriguing story of how a timorous Indian cipher fell in love with an Afrikaner white girl.

He hypnotised Nicolette Lotter and her brother Hardus into believing that it was “God’s Will” to kill their parents, and so under Naidoo’s divine instructions, she stabbed her mother and Hardus strangled his father as Satan watched. He stood to inherit wealth through his relationship with naive Nicolette.

Naidu continues to languish in Limpopo Prison, presumably still believing in the miracle that he will be set free by prison angels .

South African criminal history is replete with Indian killers and if it is not for greed, the other common denominators are jealousy or an inability to accept and reconcile with reality. Madhan Maharaj and Jaiseelan Govindsamy bear testimony to my statement as both killed their wives, in 2005 and 2007 respectively. I call them damaged souls with twisted logic and febrile and tormented minds with an internal scent.

What drives them into a sunset of gathering hell will always be a mystery. Some perpetrators play “mad” and go for mental and psychiatric evaluation to Fort Napier. In rare cases, some get so lost in their own fiction that they really go “mad”, but in most cases they are declared fit to stand trial

Femicide is unforgettable in the annals of hard crime and the murder in Overport of Dr Anuradha Nursingh and her elderly parents in1992 comes to mind. The biggest fish to escape the justice net was young Xerxes Nursingh, then 16. He was acquitted in 2004 of killing all three. He is alleged to have used them as target practice in a shooting spree. He claimed to have been emotionally, mentally and physically abused by his mother. When the mental heat became unbearable for him, he decided to cool off his family in a coroner's fridge. In his case, I think they referred to it as “sane automatism”.

As December wound down in 2013, Chatsworth was rocked by triple murders. A psychotic and unstable mad man, Rajen Kandasamy, killed his wife, teenage son and daughter in the early hours of December 29. They were never given the chance to usher in the New Year. It is presumed that she had initiated divorce proceedings which he could not accept. So he went for the brutal narrative – “Choose me or choose a tombstone!” He tried the insanity trick like so many others before him but it backfired.

And just when the waters seemed calm, a “Great White” killer surfaced in Henri van Breede, who snuffed the lives out of his parents and brother. His sister Marli lived to see another day, but not without deep emotional and physical trauma that has scarred her for life. The axe killing in January 2015 was brutal and visceral. What kind of beast would carve up his family like a holiday roast? The drug addict was deservedly sentenced to three life terms.

We must not misinterpret preternatural calm and quiet as a sign of feebleness and lassitude, for underneath the air-brushed veneer could be a polished practitioner of death just waiting for something to tick him off.

For parolees getting ready for freedom, the lengthy period of incarceration could marinate and mature raw anger into sociopathic contempt and psychotic glee. And when the histrionics of exoneration are over and they crawl out of the abyss of perdition, seeking to make amends to society and new beginnings, we must always remember that their crimes are a fait accompli. It is a tag they will have to live with for the limited time they have left in life.

Kevin Govender


Daily News