2011 in KZN … it was quite a year

2011-12-29 00:00

Another year has whooshed past and as we ready ourselves for the new year, THARUNA DEVCHAND reflects on the things that have been.

Above: Murder accused Mathew Naidoo (not pictured), Nicolette Lotter (left) and her brother Hardus Lotter attend their trial at the Durban High Court. They are on trial for the double murders of the Lotters’ parents.

I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth...

THE year 2011 has seen much courtroom drama, with one of the most recent cases, the Lotter case, ­grabbing the “most grippingly insane” title.

For those not following the satanic verses, Mathew Naidoo, his ­ex­girlfriend Nicolette Lotter, and her brother Hardus stand accused of murdering the siblings’ parents, Magdalena and Johannes Lotter, at their Westville home in July 2008.

The siblings claim that they killed their parents because “God told them to do so”, and Naidoo, the “third son of God”, told them that their father was a philandering ­Satanist, while Nicolette was also “raped by a tokoloshe”. The trial has been adjourned to March 5, so ­perhaps ready yourself with some popcorn for the final outcome.

The Morne Croeser case, which ­also made headlines, in which the former Pietermaritzburg policeman was accused for the brutal murder of his wife Erika, is due for judgment on January 16, 2012.

Sunesh Manilall was convicted this year for the murder of his first wife, Monika, who was shot dead in February 2006, but has been granted leave for appeal while his co­accused, Mumtaz Osman and Victor Mbatha, were not.

Also this year, Kalisha Rajcoomar and Amith Sewkarran were convicted, Sheryl Cwele was convicted ... and divorced, and Hilton Shaw was cleared of his wife’s murder.

In August, KwaZulu-Natal’s tourism and economic development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni were ­alleged to be part of a pattern of racketeering, fraud and money laundering, as claimed in a 77-page document presented before the court in connection with the retired head of KZN’s health department, Ronald Green-Thompson. The duo were released on R100 000 bail, while Green-Thompson was released on R40 000 bail.

The DA, in their street-renaming challenge against the eThekwini Municipality, won half the battle, and the Supreme Court of Appeal has set aside the renaming of nine Durban streets: this means that Margaret Mncadi will revert to Victoria Embankment, Stalwart Simelane Street will become Stanger Street again, Masabalala Yengwa Avenue becomes NMR Avenue, Mahatma Gandhi Road reverts to Point Road, Johannes Nkosi Street to Alice Street, Dr Yusuf Dadoo Street to Grey Street and Broad Street, Dr AB ­Xuma Street to Commercial Road and Ruth First freeway will once more be the M4 northern freeway.

In April, 49-year-old Catherine Bassage and her son Christopher (22) both graduated with a bachelor of commerce degree in economics and supply-chain management from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Above: Also this year, Chris Ndlela (right) stepped into his Mayor shoes, while Alpha Shelembe resigned after being made deputy mayor.

The municipality and their mules

MSUNDUZI’S 2011 was the year of Operation Chihuahua, Operation Pitbull and an attempt at cleaning up the city of choice.

The Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business launched the P3 Campaign (Picture Perfect PMB), while Msunduzi employed 200 temporary workers in May for their 12-month city ­cleaning project, and Rob Haswell resigned.

With Msunduzi’s finances having improved, and the municipality no longer under administration, 2011 also marked the opening of Edendale Mall, major revamps at various shopping centres, including Cascades, Scottsville Mall, Hayfields Mall, the Quarry Centre, Liberty Midlands Mall, as well as the return of Christmas lights, despite debt in the city standing at R900 million. The KZN provincial finances were deemed to be in the black.

Also this year, Chris Ndlela stepped into his Mayor shoes, while Alpha Shelembe resigned after being made deputy mayor.

Schabir Shaik, released in March, made headlines again for playing golf “on his death bed”, for injuring a ­journalist and his claim that he was attacked on the golf course.

Hilton faced a great number of ­electricity outages, which will ­hopefully be sorted in 2012, and ­maybe next year there won’t be any hadedas bombing the city’s power ­either.

Above: Misha puts his paw on Lewis Stone after they were rescued, with (from left) Stone’s grandson Chase, daughter-in-law Alison and son Nigel. Stone managed to survive two nights and two days in the open with the help of his pet.

Chicken soup for the soul

LEWIS Stone, an 82-year-old man, went missing and managed to survive two nights and two days in the open with the help of his pet, a five-year-old German shepherd, Misha. Misha lay on his chest to keep him warm at night, and by day Misha stuck with his master until they were discovered in a steep valley off Oswald Shearer Drive, Wembley.

In April, 49-year-old Catherine Bassage and her son Christopher (22) both graduated with a bachelor of commerce degree in economics and supply-chain management from the Univerity of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

“I was planning to register with ­Unisa, but unfortunately I missed the deadline,” said Catherine to The Witness.

“When I was at UKZN to pay registration fees for my son, I walked past student counselling and found out that I could pick up a module at the university for a semester.”

Catherine was originally registered to do accounts and economics for non-degree purposes. But she loved the experience so much, she did not want to leave.

Above: Thirteen corpses laid out on a field at the scene of one of the worst accidents in Pietermaritzburg, where 15 people were killed on the New Greytown Road near Copesville, after a taxi collided head-on into a truck before going down an embankment.

May they rest in peace

The year also witnessed some shockingly brutal murders that would give crime novels a run for their money, as well as devasting accidents.

Tessa Niemand (44) was found naked with a stab wound to her heart and her ponytail cut and stuffed into her mouth at a popular escort agency in Pietermaritzburg; Sister Rosani Rassie (44) killed herself and her son Nicholas (9) in a parked car at the Protea sports grounds by administering the strong sedative, Dormicum, to her son and herself; and the murder of Catherine Krog by her ex-lover and the father of their two-year-old daughter.

In one of the worst accidents in Pietermaritzburg, 15 were killed after a taxi collided head on into a truck, before going down an embankment.

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