Why court denied Durban principal's alleged killers bail
Durban - One of the three men accused of killing retired Chatsworth principal Gona Pillay was on parole for an armed robbery conviction at the time of the murder.
A Chatsworth magistrate, Steven Meyer, was told on Wednesday during a court hearing that Fred Boy Msomi, 24, would have completed his parole next January. Msomi, Basil Underhill, 24, and his relative, Braveman Underhill, 24, were denied bail.
Meyer said he found no exceptional circumstances to grant them bail.
Pillay, 66, and her husband, Loga, 68, were attacked in their home in Silverglen, Chatsworth, on September 20.
Basil, from uMbumbulu, was an intern estate agent from Pam Golding Properties in eManzimtoti and was tasked with selling the Pillays’ home.
He allegedly took Braveman, of Illovo, and Msomi, of Nsimbini area in Folweni, to the house, and at knifepoint threatened the owners and stabbed them before removing valuables from their home including necklaces, a flat-screen television set and the couple’s Mercedes-Benz.
They are facing charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder and attempted murder.
Pillay died at the scene, while Loga, who is also a retired school principal, survived with serious injuries.
He spent six days in hospital and has since been discharged.
State prosecutor Thandeka Ngcamu had opposed bail and cited the public outcry because crime in Chatsworth had escalated.
She argued the men were flight risks because they had no assets tying them to one area, and cited the lack of exceptional circumstances to motivate their bail application. She also revealed that the trio were previously convicted of robbery and assault.
“Not even their previous convictions could stop them from committing crime. One of the men, a parolee whose parole was to expire soon, could not be stopped by his parole conditions,” argued Ngcamu. She alleged Basil was the mastermind behind the attack and said the State had a strong case against the men.
“The vehicle used in the crime was found with one of them. The stolen items belonging to Pillay were found with one of them. The State has the pointing-out and the identity parade evidence and their confessions,” said Ngcamu.
Defence attorney Siyabonga Mncwabe read out the men’s affidavits in support of their bail application, to the court.
Mncwabe felt there were exceptional circumstances for his clients to be granted bail. He argued that they would not interfere with the witnesses because they lived far away from where the incident took place, and they would be safer in their communities.
Mncwabe urged the court to take into consideration the fact that his clients took the law into their confidence by not running away when they became aware that the police were looking for them. He discredited the State’s pointing-out, identification parade and the alleged confessions as pieces of evidence yet to be challenged in the trial.
“At this stage it is not clear where the alleged confessions were made and to whom. We do not have further details of the ID parade and who participated. It could have been people with the same complexion and height as my clients,” said Mncwabe.
Ngcamu disagreed, saying Mncwabe’s submissions were nothing but ordinary circumstances courts hear daily in petty cases. Meyer agreed that there were no exceptional circumstances to grant bail.
The case was adjourned until November 13 for the State to receive post-mortem results, fingerprints and cellphone evidence that would be useful in the high court proceedings.
Although there were fewer people in court yesterday than previously, those present represented the Pillay family.
Joyce Naidu, a resident, said denying bail was the first step towards receiving justice for the Pillay family.