Nundkumaran Poonusamy Pillay embraces his daughter-in-law, Hazel Pillay. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)
Durban - A Phoenix great-grandfather, who escaped jail despite pleading guilty to slitting his bedridden wife’s throat, is looking forward to rebuilding his life.

Nundkumaran Poonusamy Pillay, 64, was given a five-year wholly suspended sentence by Judge Shyam Gyanda in the Durban High Court on Friday.

Pillay cut the throat of his common-law wife, Dhunalutchmee Naidoo, 69, in their rented home in Eastbury on April 8. He claimed she had begged him to do it.

As he walked out of court, a teary-eyed Pillay beamed when he saw his daughter-in-law Hazel Pillay.

They embraced before he told POST he was happy with the outcome of the case, adding that he looked forward to rebuilding his life. He has moved in with Hazel and intends working as a car guard to supplement his pension.

Hazel, who also resides in Phoenix, said the family had been praying for his release. “We have been praying for everything to work out in his favour and I will be with him every step of the way,” she said.

In passing sentence, Judge Gyanda said that having seen all the evidence and mitigating factors, he was satisfied that the chances of Pillay committing another such offence were virtually non-existent.

“He has to live with the guilt for the rest of his life and nothing this court can do will punish him further. Every waking day he would have to live with the fact that he had taken the life of the person he loves.”

Judge Gyanda said he did not believe there was any purpose in sending him to prison at his age. “The accused has shown remorse and regret for his conduct. Even in his plea statement, he says the worse day with her will be better than these days without.”

He added that he did not believe the sentence would be giving out the wrong message to other men, as argued by state prosecutor Cheryl Naidu.

“Each case will be dealt with on merit,” the judge said.

The court heard that Naidoo resigned from her job at a clothing factory three years ago due to ailments to her shoulder and leg. This left her unable to walk or do tasks by herself.

During this time the couple had been living with their daughter. Their son died seven years ago from cancer.

When Naidoo became ill, Pillay left his job to care of her and he would bath, cook, feed and wash her.

The court heard that in January, their daughter had an altercation with her landlord and they were asked to leave the premises. The daughter went off on her own and nobody knows her whereabouts. Left with nowhere to go, Hazel helped the couple get the flat in Eastbury.

For three months, Pillay continued to care for his wife, using their joint pension. However, things had become difficult financially and he would often to go to relatives for help.

Pillay was also taking strain physically and could no longer pick up and bath Naidoo, who weighed 92kg. He had often sought help from neighbours.

The court heard that Pillay tried to place Naidoo in a hospital or a home, but she refused because she only wanted him to care for her. None of his relatives were able to help him.

In his plea statement, Pillay told the court that given the circumstances, Naidoo had begged him to kill her.

The court heard that he first tried to suffocate her and when that failed he slit her throat.