Durban — The family of a Chatsworth woman who was beaten to death with a hammer and found three days after her murder, were mentally and emotionally prepared to hear details of her killing in the upcoming trial.
On Friday, Sugandran Rodney Naicker, 35, who intends to plead not guilty, was denied bail in the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court.
He is charged with the murder of 35-year-old Vyaksha Sookdew who was employed as an instrumentation technician at AECI Mining Chemicals.
Naicker is alleged to have killed Sookdew on December 21. Her body was found after the accused led police to it three days later when he was arrested for fleeing a petrol garage after fuelling a car and not paying. He allegedly then confessed to police to having killed Sookdew.
During his bail application, it emerged that he was married and had two children who lived with their mother and grandparents and that he was driving Sookdew’s car when he was arrested.
Sookdew’s family were made aware of her murder on Christmas morning.
It was also alleged that the accused, allegedly an ex-boyfriend and colleague, sent a message from Sookdew’s phone to her employer saying she would not be at work because she was taking her mother to hospital.
Outside court, after Naicker was refused bail, Tashleen Kasipershad, Sookdew’s cousin and family spokesperson, said the “ugly, horrible thing” had been difficult.
“We have not had the benefit of closure. For her funeral, which was last Thursday, we had a sealed casket. That in itself tells you the extent and severity of this tragedy. It is important for us to hear the details of what happened. We need to know and in that way, we need justice to be served,” said Kasipershad.
She said that the accused was also an ex-colleague of Sookdew’s and that the family had not known about him until her cousin’s murder.
“We had anticipated that she would be joining us that day for Christmas lunch. It came as a shock when we learned of her murder. Christmas will not be the same. It is now a holiday of horror. Christmas was her favourite holiday and she looked forward to it the most. We are still in a state of shock. To my knowledge, they were not in a relationship and were exes.”
Sookdew’s mother, Rosheni Sookdew, described her daughter as trusting and caring.
“Everyone loved her, she was beautiful and reliable.”
During his bail application, Naicker’s affidavit was read out by his legal representative J Pillay. In it, he said that at the time of the offence, he was highly intoxicated.
“This is evident in him going for fuel and not paying for it, then going back again to the same petrol station. This displays a lack of logic,” said Pillay.
She said Naicker had been a heavy substance user eight months before the commission of the offence.
State prosecutor Sandra Desilver read out Warrant Officer Elizabeth Ramrattan’s affidavit which said that on December 24 Naicker had put fuel in a car at a petrol station and left without paying. He later returned, driving Sookdew’s car to the same garage where an attendant identified him and the police were called.
“The accused knew what he was doing. He went to the garage and fled and came back with a different vehicle to be unidentified. This shows logic. The State has a strong case against him. We have a confession made by him and the body was pointed out by him. He is a flight risk. He attempted to flee his second crime. What guarantee do we have that he will attend court?”
In refusing the accused bail, acting magistrate Naresh Bika said it was clear from the packed courtroom and the demonstration outside that the matter had induced a sense of shock and outrage in the community, even though this had not been argued by the defence.
He said he had also considered the magnitude and seriousness of the offence and found nothing extraordinary about the accused’s exceptional circumstances presented to the court: that he is unemployed, has health complications because of substance abuse, and had two children.
“On the day he went with two different cars to the garage, he knew what he was doing, he had the presence of mind to change cars. Whether that was deliberate or not is irrespective but it raises an issue of the presence of mind, this shows premeditation …
“Any other decision by the court would create a sense of shock and outrage, therefore bail is denied.”