Now, standing on the balcony of the three-bedroom home his wife, retired school principal Gona had purchased before her death, Pillay said they had hoped to spend their twilight years here.
It is situated in a complex in Amanzimtoti and overlooks the ocean.
The grandfather of four lives alone and the walls bear testimony to his love for his wife. There are photographs of them alone and with their children.
“My family and friends have given me the strength to go on each day,” said Pillay, 71, a former teacher.
“It is not easy to pick up the pieces of one’s life and move on after such a tragedy. My dear wife was a strong, independent woman. She is irreplaceable.”
He recalls: “Gona loved being active. She refused to sit around.
“When she retired in 2013, she said ‘dad (her nickname for him), this house (in Silverglen) is too big. We need to downsize and enjoy our life together’. Unfortunately, she was taken away before we could move here.”
Their triple-storey, seven-bedroom family home, which had two lounge areas, was sold for R850 000.
“It was on the market for over R1 million and ended up being sold for peanuts. I often wonder why I gave in to sell our mansion.
“I guess I gave in to Gona because I knew she was right. We needed to downgrade, but I always tell myself that if I did not give in, my wife would still be with me.
“She wanted to live life to the fullest, but I would have been equally happy at our home, just having her by my side.”
Pillay said he drove in and around Chatsworth but could not bring himself to drive past his old home.
“It makes me think about what happened.”
He said he only returned to his family home months after the murder.
“I went with my family when I had to pack my things to move into the new house. But I did not allow myself to get emotional. I detached myself from that house and all the memories we shared there.”
With the trial being held in the Durban High Court, Pillay said he hoped his wife’s killers would get a life sentence.
“They killed such a wonderful lady and for what, for a few items from the house? If it were up to me, I would punish them. They took away a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend. They took away someone who was good in this country.”
He said she formed the Chatsworth Retired Teachers Organisation when she retired and they had travelled to various countries, including England, the US, and Cambodia.
“We were busy planning our second trip to Vietnam when this happened.”
The accused are estate agent intern Lungani Basil Underhill, his cousin Sibonelo Braveman Underhill, and Fredboy Msomi. A fourth accused, known only as Thembinkosi, is still at large.
Two of the three accused - Basil Underhill and Msomi - have claimed they were assaulted by police, which has led to a trial within a trial.
The trial continues in the Durban High Court.