Lungani Basil Underhill claims he was assaulted by police and made a false statement. 
Picture: Chanelle Lutchman
Lungani Basil Underhill claims he was assaulted by police and made a false statement. Picture: Chanelle Lutchman

Cops put words in my mouth, says man accused of KZN principal's murder

By Chanelle Lutchman Time of article published Jun 11, 2019

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Durban - Estate agent Lungani Basil Underhill charged for the murder of former Chatsworth principal Gona Pillay claims he was assaulted and threatened by police and thus made a false statement during his arrest.

His allegations are being tested in a trial within a trial and acting Judge Naresh Bhikha is expected to make a ruling later today as to whether the statement is admissable or not.

Underhill, 25, and his cousin Braveman Underhill, 25 and Fredboy Msomi, 30, are currently on trial in the Durban High Court. This is the third week of the trial.

They face charges of murder, attempted murder and armed robbery.

Pillay and her husband were attacked in their Silverglen home in September 2017.

Their 7 bedroom home had been on the market and Basil had been their estate agent. They came under attack during a viewing and Gona was killed while her husband was Loga sustained 17 stab wounds. He survived the attack.

In his initial statement, Underhill allegedly confessed to going to the home with the intention of "stealing money."

He said after seeing the home with his other co-accused they sat for tea and he went to the kitchen and pulled a knife off the counter.

However at the start of trial last month, Underhill's attorney Shaheen Seedat said his client had been forced to sign the statement.

Seedat read out a new statement where Underhill claimed he was used by Msomi, through deception to get into the home. He was unaware they were going to rob the Pillays.

On Monday during his testimony Underhill said a day after the incident, he met with police officers on Anton Lembede Street (formerly Smith Street) and was taken to a detectives boardroom in Bayview Police Station and officers "put words" in his mouth.

"I was assaulted with open hands on my face and punches on my back. I was also promised that I would be electrocuted, killed and my body would be disposed at Mobeni Heights Cemetery if I did not accept the version of events that was put to me."

He said after about an hour of assault, he gave in and agreed to the version by police officers.

However, state prosecutor Kelvin Singh questioned why Underhill never spoke out about the alleged abuse at the start of trial.


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