Phindile Ntshongwana appearing in court. File picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Durban - There was no reason why alleged Durban axe murderer, Joseph Phindile Ntshongwana, should have no memory about his alleged crimes, the Durban High Court heard on Thursday.

“There was no neurological basis for this,” specialist psychiatrist Dr John Dunn told the court.

Ntshongwana has denied guilt on four counts of murder, two of attempted murder, kidnapping and raping a woman, and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Various psychiatrists have testified that while Ntshongwana, a former Blue Bulls rugby player, had a serious mental illness, it was not to the degree that he was unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his alleged offences.

The defence however contends that the crimes were the result of mental illness.

Psychiatrist Prof Abubuker Gangat previously testified for the defence that Ntshongwana suffered from a delusional disorder and that these delusions had come thick and fast, making him lose touch with reality.

Dunn, who has worked at Fort Napier Hospital for 37 years, said he had never heard of the term “thick and fast” and that it had no meaning for him.

“I fail to see one could have a hailstorm of false beliefs… it is difficult to know what he is trying to convey.”

He said he would be interested to know what communication had occurred between Ntshongwana and Ganat to make him conclude the accused was suffering from delusions that came “thick and fast”.

Dunn was on the panel which assessed Ntshongwana after his arrest.

Asked by prosecutor Rea Mina if Ntshongwana's amnesia about the crimes was genuine or not, he pointed out the psychiatrists were not there to be questioned about allegations.

Asked about selective memory, where a person remembers some things and not others, he said this was a form of psychogenic amnesia, a repressive mechanism preventing a person being aware of traumatic events.

Another possibility was suppression of a memory, which might be a way of saying the person was not willing to apply their minds to an event that had happened.

Ntshongwana has been charged with murdering Thembelenkosini Cebekhulu, Paulos Hlongwa, Simon Ngidi, and an unidentified man during the same week in March 2011.

The trial continues.