Brutal murder shatters family circle

2012-02-25 15:30

In January 2010, 17-year-old Keegan Govender had just passed matric.

He had also allegedly just used a spade to kill family friend Gansen Gounden after the older man made a pass at Govender’s girlfriend, 23-year-old Michelle Nadasen.

Govender then allegedly buried Gounden’s body under a mango tree in Nadasen’s backyard while her father, Ram Reddy – the dead man’s close friend and relative through marriage – slept.

Four days later Govender allegedly dug up Gounden’s body and threw it into the nearby Nseleni River.

When the corpse was discovered by police the next day, crocodiles were circling. They had eaten half the body already.

This week Govender sat in the dock at Mtunzini on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, listening to friends and family members testify against him.

Wearing a checked shirt, khaki pants and designer takkies, he smiled at his parents sitting in the public gallery behind him.

Judge Mohini Murugasen appeared almost motherly as she urged the young man to pay attention while his lawyer Willie Lombard read admissions about the discovery of Gounden’s corpse for the court record.

Govender’s lover was not there to listen. Nadasen is serving a 25-year sentence for murder in Eshowe prison after pleading guilty in a separate trial. She has turned against the teenager who family members say was obsessed with her.

Last November Nadasen told the court that Gounden had groped her. She told Govender about it and the pair decided to kill him, she testified.

According to Nadasen’s version of events, she lured Gounden to her house and Govender used a spade to murder him.

This week Ram Reddy told the court he had woken up on January 7 to find Govender loading a rubbish bin into his father’s bakkie.

“I asked him what he was doing with my bin because there was no dirt in it and he said he was doing garden services.

“When I opened the bin a foul smell emerged from the bin. I saw white pants and takkies. I was so shocked ... I fainted,’’ Reddy testified.

He told the court his daughter, Gino Naidoo, called police and officers arrested Nadasen and Govender a little while later.

Two friends and neighbours, Morgan Chetty and Diedre Naidoo, testified that Govender had told them he had killed somebody and asked for help. Both refused, but neither went to the police.

Every day, members of the Govender, Gounden and Reddy families greet each other – but keep their distance when it comes to choosing seats.

Three decades of being friends, neighbours and relatives mean nothing now.

“Once we were all one big family,’’ Gino Naidoo told City Press during a visit to the murder house on the corner of Golden Fern Road, where the mango tree has been hacked to a stump and burned.

“Now our children don’t see their aunties and uncles any more. That’s all been killed off.”

Gounden’s brother Morgan was shattered by the murder. He is raising his brother’s children, who are 12 and nine.

“We meet the other families every day when we come to court. It’s not easy,” Morgan Gounden said this week.

“The friendship, the family is not the same any more. We greet but that’s it. Things will never be the same for us.

“This is a small community and this issue ended up being discussed in the churches, in the community organisations. All we want is for the trial to be over so we can get answers and end this. This is very hard.’’

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