Defence testifies to Govindsamy’s ‘zombie’ state

2009-08-06 00:00

SHORTLY before he stabbed his wife, Anthea, several times, killing her, at Howick Falls on March 25, 2007, murder accused Jaiseelan Govindsamy appeared “like a zombie”, a defence witness testified in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

Mark Anderson, whose wife is related to Govindsamy, told Judge Esther Steyn and assessors that at the time he had not really thought much about Govindsamy’s appearance. But thinking back to what had happened, he realised that Govindsamy was “not right” at the time. He said he believed it was possible Govindsamy had been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Anderson said he and a “few friends”, including an off-duty policeman, were drinking whisky at Howick Falls that evening when Govindsamy came up to them and asked him “for a light” for his cigarette.

He said Govindsamy was “pale … and he couldn’t maintain direct eye contact with me … He was like a zombie to me at that point in time,” he said.

Anderson said that after a short conversation, Govindsamy “took off”.

“A few seconds afterwards I heard a scream (from the direction he had taken).”

Anderson said he saw Govindsamy had his wife, Anthea, against the car and he was already assaulting her at that stage. “She had her back against the motor vehicle and he was stabbing her.”

As they got nearer Anderson said his police friend had fired two warning shots, but Govindsamy didn’t turn or stop. “It was like he didn’t hear the shots … He still continued to stab his wife,”he said.

He said he saw Govindsamy stab Anthea again once after she fell to the ground.

Anderson said people around had assaulted Govindsamy after his arrest and he was eventually thrown into the police van. “He didn’t even try to flee the scene or fight. He just took it … ” he said.

In cross-examination, state advocate Dheelan Naidoo suggested to Anderson that it was “strange” that he suddenly “popped up out of the woodwork as it were” and was called to testify for the defence, in spite of never having made a statement to the police about what he observed.

Anderson said Govindsamy “didn’t even come near” Geraldine, Anthea’s friend, as she was on the other side of the car, hysterical, in contradiction to state witnesses, who testified that Govindsamy had wrestled with Geraldine.

Later, a member of a panel of psychiatrists observing the case, Dr Bertie Lind, testified that, in his opinion, Govindsamy’s actions were “goal-directed”, and he disagreed with clinical psychologist, Lingum Pillay, that the stabbing was “involuntary”.

However, he believed it was possible Govindsamy “snapped” in anger and that he lost control.

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