Axe-murder accused Joseph Ntshongwana is seen inside the Durban High Court. File picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Durban - Former Blue Bulls' rugby player Joseph Phindile Ntshongwana is criminally responsible for his actions, a psychiatrist told the Durban High Court on Thursday.

“It is my considered opinion that the accused did not suffer from a mental disorder so that he could not appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions,” Dr Soobiah Moodley testified.

Asked by prosecutor Ria Mena whether he believed Ntshongwana was criminally responsible, he said: “In my opinion, he is.”

Ntshongwana is charged with the murder of Thembelenkosini Cebekhulu in Montclair, Durban, on March 20, 2011, Paulos Hlongwa two days later, Simon Ngidi the following day, and an unidentified man sometime that week. All were hacked to death with an axe.

He is also accused of kidnapping and raping a woman on November 28, 2010, and of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. The woman, who cannot be named, was kidnapped in central Durban and held captive for three days.

He faces two further charges of attempted murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

Moodley said Ntshongwana suffered from a schizo-affective disorder, but that this did not mean he could not identify right from wrong, or that he was not aware of his actions.

He said several of Ntshongwana's actions given as evidence during the trial so far were not those of a person who did not know what he was doing.

He cited the testimony of one of his intended victims, Mhleli Tholo, who was attacked on November 26, 2010.

Tholo said Ntshongwana stopped beating him and fled when the light of a neighbouring house was switched on.

“What this indicates to me is that he could not only appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions, but he could act accordingly.

“Had he not appreciated the wrongfulness of his actions, he would have stayed there continuing his attack,” said Moodley.

Moodley referred to the evidence of Sihle Vincent Mhlongo, who testified that he witnessed Ntshongwana hacking Simon Ngidi to death in Umbilo on March 23, 2011.

Mhlongo previously told the court that he shouted out to Ntshongwana. He said Ntshongwana stopped and then looked in his direction before running away.

Moodley this indicated that he was fully aware of what he was doing.

He cited Ntshongwana's actions of allegedly hiding the axe in the dog box at his house, and an attempt to remove blood from his shower as a clear indication he knew what he had done.

The court previously heard evidence that evidence of blood was found in the shower, the hand basin and on a towel.

Lt-Col Sietze Sibo Albertse testified in April that the blood was not visible to the naked eye, indicating it had been washed away.

“I feel that the accused was fully aware of what he was doing at the time and appreciated the wrongfulness of his actions,” said Moodley.

He said Ntshongwana's actions were not those of a confused, erratic person.

Moodley, who was testifying on behalf of the prosecution, countered claims that Ntshongwana suffered from a delusional disorder.

Psychologist Abubuker Gangat had testified on Wednesday for the defence that Ntshongwana was suffering from a delusional disorder.

Moodley said: “I have to disagree with that assessment he made. Mr Gangat is deluded that the accused suffers from a delusional disorder.”

He said Gangat's two reports before the court contradicted each other.

Gangat also told the court that Ntshongwana did not remember any incidents of murder.

Moodley said amnesia was not associated with delusional disorders or with schizo-affective disorder.

The trial was adjourned to January 29 to set further trial dates in July.