Boy (10) was key witness to murder

2012-12-21 00:00

TWENTY-year-old Erwin Ramsamuj was found guilty yesterday of the “execution style” murders of three people in Northdale, including his former girlfriend.

A key witness in the case was a 10-year-old boy who saw part of what happened and raised the alarm.

When police arrived at the scene, they found the bodies Kubendran “Jeff” Pillay, Merle Maistry and Musa Ndlovu lying close to one another in the lounge of Pillay’s home in Larkspur Road on May 18, 2011.

A 9 mm pistol was found at the scene.

All three victims were shot in the head.

Acting High Court Judge Jerome Ngwenya, sitting with an assessor, said in his judgment that despite his youth, the boy was an “impressive” witness and his evidence was credible.

This did not mean that the court automatically rejected the evidence given by Ramsamuj, who raised an alibi defence.

However, after analysing the totality of the evidence, the court was satisfied that Ramsamuj was lying and that his alibi to the effect that he was at Mike’s Tavern at the time should be rejected.

Judge Ngwenya said when the boy testified he became emotional and the court had to take short breaks to allow him to recover.

He said the court was mindful that young people sometimes “fantasised” about events.

However, he added, in this case the court did not gain the impression that the boy had embellished the facts in any way; nor did it detect any malice or hatred in him towards Ramsamuj, or any reason for him to falsely implicate him.

The boy testified that he saw Ramsamuj put a gun to Pillay’s head and heard a shot.

This was the last thing the boy saw before he ran away crying to tell his grandmother about the shooting.

He told her to call the police.

The court drew an inference that Ramsamuj had similarly shot the other two victims, the judge said.

The court heard that Maistry and Pillay, and at times other people, had been drinking beer together in the house in the course of the day.

Judge Ngwenya said the evidence of state witnesses was to the effect that Ramsamuj had been “restless”, aggressive and “focused” on Maistry earlier that day for reasons one could only speculate over, and that he lost his temper at one stage.

The court heard that he asked Maistry several times to give him her cellphone and she refused.

At one stage he grabbed her round the neck and forcefully took the cellphone from her.

On another occasion he angrily flung a beer bottle through an open door.

Evidence was led that Maistry had warned him on one occasion that if he continued with his behaviour she would report him to the police for having a unlicensed firearm.

He denied in his evidence that he had ever possessed a firearm, or that he shot the three victims.

The court granted a request by defence advocate, Brad Osborne, to adjourn the case until January 21 in order to obtain a probation officer’s report before sentencing.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

SIDEBAR: Ramsamuj displayed no emotion when he was pronounced guilty yesterday. Outside the courtroom however tears flowed down his mother’s cheeks as well-wishers tried to offer her comfort.

She declined to make any comment to the media.

Maistry’s mother, Jenny Frank, was tearful for a different reason. She told The Witness that being a Christian she thanks the Lord for answering her prayers.

“Justice has been done at last,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by her sister, Jenny Haffajee, who said the case has caused the family agony.

The father of the 10-year-old boy - who cannot be named to protect the child’s identity - also welcomed the judgment. He said his son is “brave” but is still

traumatised by what he witnessed.

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