Durban — A Phoenix couple accused of the murder of a Port Shepstone magistrate’s son outside a Durban nightclub were found guilty on Wednesday at the Durban Regional Court.
Bryson Munilall, 27, was leaving the Dance Cafe Nightclub with his sister and two other relatives on November 5, 2022, when his group got into a car park bust-up with Joash Govindsamy, 28, his wife Aveshnee Naidoo, 22, and others.
Govindsamy stabbed Munilall multiple times and when his sister Caroline tried to intervene, Naidoo pulled the sibling away and assaulted her.
Munilall died at the scene.
Naidoo was also convicted of the intent to do grievous bodily harm for assaulting Caroline.
While Munilall’s mother Ronelle and sister appreciated magistrate Mayne Mewalall’s ruling, they told the Sunday Tribune the outcome “doesn’t bring him back home”.
“It makes no difference. Our lives will never be the same.”
Caroline said the trial, which began on Monday, was a traumatic experience.
“As a family, we tried to move on and heal. Testifying on Monday was horrific,” said Caroline.
Munilall’s mother said her son was full of ambition before his life was snuffed out suddenly.
“Bryson and his girlfriend were also planning to get married. “No special occasion has been the same for our family ever since,” she said.
The fight started around 3.30am after an argument over a car.
Munilall got involved when Govindsamy began assaulting his cousin. He took on Govindsamy and floored him with a succession of punches.
Munilall's focus moved towards Naidoo, who had slapped him from behind.
Govindsamy stabbed Munilall three times in his back.
Realising that her brother was badly injured, Caroline tried to shield him from Govindsamy and appealed to him to stop the assault.
That’s when Naidoo pulled Caroline’s hair, assaulted and threw her to the ground, leaving her momentarily disorientated.
By the time Caroline regained her senses, she noticed Munilall bleeding profusely from his stab wounds and her relatives were attempting to get him into the car.
He was stabbed seven times and when emergency services arrived he was pronounced dead.
The State, led by prosecutor Desiree Boyang, also used video footage revealing the car park clash to substantiate their case.
Boyang told the court the couple had acted with common purpose.
While Naidoo pleaded guilty to the assault charge, they both denied murder and made certain admissions via the Section 220 statements they each made before the court.
Govindsamy said he was unable to recollect the number of times he stabbed Munilall, but admitted his actions were unlawful.
Naidoo confirmed that she argued with the deceased and her husband stabbed Munilall, but denied involvement in his death.
“The trial was curtailed to a large extent because of the admissions made,” said Mewalall.
She said the video footage depicted the events sufficiently for the court to see the manner in which Munilall was killed.
“There was no cross-examination of the State’s evidence and neither of the accused who testified or called witnesses. That, in a nutshell, was the evidence before the court to make a finding.”
Mewalall said Govindsamy was convicted of murder because he accepted the unlawfulness and wrongfulness of his actions in his admission statement, provided no defence to the murder charge and Caroline’s testimony was “clear, coherent and satisfactory on all the material aspects”.
She accepted that Naidoo did not inflict the stab wounds and the State relied on “common cause” to link her to the murder count.
In making her ruling, Mewalall said she researched factors relevant to this matter, including “active association”, and the State needed to show that Naidoo associated herself with Govindsamy’s conduct.
“It’s not guesswork; case law sets out how one can arrive at a conclusion.”
Mewalall also reasoned that the natural reaction of an unsuspecting person who is in the company of an armed person with a deadly weapon was to completely distance themselves from events about to unfold.
“Instead, Naidoo assisted Govindsamy, armed with a knife and who had already stabbed the deceased thrice.
“She did so by removing Caroline, who was trying to stop further injury to her brother.
“Seconds later, Govindsamy inflicted further stab wounds on Munilall.
“Therefore, there is no evidence that she disassociates herself from Govindsamy’s conduct.”
Mewalall said Naidoo was in no danger of being assaulted at the time.
“All of this evidence, crucially, went unchallenged and merely underscores Naidoo’s acts of association with the conduct of Govindsamy. The case against her was damning. Despite this, she chose to remain silent, and it strengthened the State's case.”
The matter was adjourned until March 4 for Mewalall to consider probation officers’ reports ahead of sentencing.