Murder victim, Nalin Naidu’s family gather outside court: Raj Krishnapal, Anesh Rampersadh, Shanti Bissoon, Tyron Naidu, Shaleen Jay Narain and Pastor Terry Jugdeo. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - Seelan Naidu was a coward who hanged himself in prison rather than face the consequences of his actions. Acting Judge Joe Nxusani said this about the husband and father behind the murder of Malvern mother, Nalin Naidu, during the sentencing of killers Phumla Matseke, 45, and Sifiso Nkosi, 35, in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

While Matseke and Nkosi - who was a policeman - were identified as the ringleaders in the plot to kill Nalin in October 2014, it was her husband, Seelan who was named as the mastermind behind the gruesome killing.

He died in prison while awaiting trial in January 2016, with the cause of death unconfirmed until his sentencing.

As the final chapter played out in court, in what has been a long four years for Nalin’s family, Nkosi was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and 15 years for kidnapping with both sentences to run concurrently.

Matseke was also sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and 10 years for kidnapping, also to run concurrently.

As Nxusani delivered the sentences, the gallery erupted into cheers and clapping - and a palpable sense of relief - after an emotional day for families of the victim and the accused.

Earlier, there was high drama when Nkosi, who was in the dock, swore at Nalin’s family and friends seated in the gallery, with a police officer having to warn both parties to remain calm.

Nalin was kidnapped on October 29 after being lured into a trap by her husband and Matseke, who worked for the couple.

Nkosi was driving the vehicle with two hitmen, Zwelakhe Maphumulo and Gcina Magwaza.

The court heard Nalin was pushed into the vehicle by her husband and how she begged for her life as Maphumulo held a knife to her throat as they drove to Shongweni Dam.

“She must have seen death in the eyes of the people in the car with her. She must have seen the horror of what was going to happen,” said Nxusani.

Convicted murderers of Malvern mother Nalin Naidu, Sifiso Nkosi and Phumla Matseke, cover their faces in the dock. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu / African News Agency (ANA)
Convicted murderers of Malvern mother Nalin Naidu, Sifiso Nkosi and Phumla Matseke, cover their faces in the dock. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu / African News Agency (ANA)

Heartbroken sobs were heard in gallery as the acting judge recounted the horrifying details of Nalin’s death, saying “the knife was used to garrot the deceased, she had no chance whatsoever”.

After her throat was slit, her body was thrown into a ditch and, before being discovered later that day, became badly burned in the sun.

The evidence showed that Nalin was apprehensive about approaching the car when Seelan had set up a meeting between her and Matseke to collect some forms.

“If only she had listened to her feminine intuition, but she gave in to her husband. But even if she had listened to her intuition, her husband was hell-bent that day on killing her.

“Seelan Naidu was a coward who, rather than face his family, chose a hangman’s noose in prison.

“We will never know what motivated him to have his wife killed,” said Nxusani.

Lawyer for the accused pair, Hycenth Mlotshwa, asked the court that life imprisonment not be imposed, stating neither of the accused had any criminal history, although Matseke had admitted to defrauding medical aids during the case. They both have children and neither of the two had physically attacked Nalin.

But State advocate Denardo MacDonald, describing it as “a crime of greed not need”, said the accused led the meticulous planning and carrying out of the murder, which included finding and hiring the two killers.

In passing sentence, Nxusani said the accused had collected payment from Seelan after the murder and then celebrated with Maphumulo and Magwaza, who have already been sentenced to 30 and 22 years respectively.

“They showed no mercy, but today they come to this court asking for the very mercy she was deprived of,” he said.

He said neither of the accused had shown remorse and had gone into hiding for eight months before being tracked down by police, as well as the fact that Nkosi was a policeman at the time of the murder, who should have been upholding the law.

Nalin’s family gathered outside court.

Her son, Tyron, said he was happy with the sentences, while her brother, Pastor Terry Jugdeo said: “My sister Nalin was a major strength in my family. It’s been four years and my mother still cries every single day. The justice system and provincial task force have been amazing.”

Another brother, Raj Krishnapal, said: “We are very satisfied with the outcome. We can rest easy, although we will never have the joy and happiness we once had, justice has been served. Seelan took the easy way out by hanging himself in prison.”

Independent On Saturday