Verulam residents gather outside court seeking justice for Seelan Pillay, who was allegedly burned to death by police and others. In front is his mother Veeramah and on thr left is the eldest brother Roger. Zanele Zulu African News Agency (ANA)
DURBAN - The attorney defending the five men accused of the kidnapping and murder of former SA Navy seaman Seelan Pillay, accused the State of using “delay tactics” to keep his clients in custody.

Pillay died in a Phoenix hospital on May 12 after suffering extensive burns.

It is alleged that Pillay was picked up from his home in Redfern, Phoenix, and taken to Berrystone Road where he was doused with fuel and set alight.

Brothers Anben and Sugendran Chinsamy, Sathasiven Reddy and Phoenix police officers Theagen Naidoo and Triston Pillay appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court yesterday in connection with the charges.

After waiting 20 minutes for the men to be brought into court for their bail application, the magistrate had to intervene and ask why proceedings were being delayed.

Once the accused were seated in court, State prosecutor NS Mngadi asked for an adjournment due to time constraints and because he was waiting for a certificate from the NPA.

“The certificate is required to indict the accused to the high court for trial because there is a prescribed sentence for premeditated murder and for the purpose of fairness, such a certificate is a necessity,” said Mngadi.

Defence attorney Chris Gounden opposed the adjournment arguing the State had enough time to acquire it.

“It is my submission that this is a delay tactic by the State to keep the accused in custody,” he added.

He said it would not be in the interests of justice to grant an adjournment.

The magistrate agreed with Gounden and refused the application for a postponement. Gounden read out the affidavits of three of his clients in support of their applications for bail.

In relation to Pillay being burnt, Anben Chinsamy, 40, said he saw Pillay burning and he took a blanket from a table to douse the flames.

“My brother arrived and we took the deceased to the hospital,” the affidavit said. The married father of two said the State has little evidence against him and that he is the “sole supporter of his household”.

Chinsamy said he had no previous convictions but he is out on bail on a drug possession charge.

His brother Sugendran Chinsamy, 30, said he was on his way home from the clinic when he heard his brother scream for assistance.

“I ran to assist him and saw Seelan was burnt. We loaded Seelan into the vehicle and took him to hospital,” he said in his affidavit.

The third accused, 52-year-old Reddy, who receives a disability pension and is a stroke survivor, said he was in his bedroom when he heard noises. He said he saw the brothers placing Seelan into a vehicle before driving away.

Seelan’s family, who were present in court yesterday, said they did not want the accused to be granted bail.

The bail applications continue.

THE MERCURY