Lover strangled, then burnt

2012-02-14 00:00

THE girlfriend of murder accused Gerald Rosselloty, Nokwazi Ntuli, suffered severe internal bruising of her chest and heart, fractured ribs and other injuries consistent with strangulation.

She was not alive when she was set alight on a mattress in the veld in Hilton in the early hours of April 17, 2010. Evidence showed that she did not inhale soot, indicating that she was no longer breathing at the time of the fire.

These were of the findings detailed in the high court in Pietermaritzburg by Dr Dhanraj Maney, who conducted the post-mortem, in Rosselloty’s trial before Judge Rishi Seegobin and assessors.

Maney said “tremendous force” must have been applied to Ntuli’s chest, compressing her heart to the extent that it was bruised at the back by the vertebrae in the spine.

“It [the bruising] could be caused by a knee or a person standing or stamping on the body for a sustained amount of time,” said Maney.

The ribs on the right side were fractured by the application of “blunt force”.

He said the force that was used would have been enough to kill by stopping the heart.

Ntuli’s tongue was protruding and her teeth were clenched, evidence of possible asphyxiation or strangulation, he said. “This suggests compression of the neck structures … it is not conclusive, however,” said Maney.

He also found bruising of the Adam’s apple, nose and forehead and blood in the nostrils and mouth.

Rosselloty’s lawyer, Chetna Singh, suggested to Maney during cross-examination that her client would allege that a man named Lucky had been involved in a fight with Ntuli the night of her death. According to Rosselloty’s version, when he later fell asleep next to Ntuli she was “fine”.

It was suggested to other witnesses that Rosselloty claimed he woke up in the early hours of April 17, 2010, in the passenger seat of his bakkie, which was parked outside the home of a friend, Candice Hickinbotham, in Hilton.

He didn’t know how he got there.

Hickinbotham, testifying for the state yesterday, said she received two SMS messages from “Rosso” after his arrest asking her to provide him with a false alibi.

The first SMS read: “ I’m relying on you. Quick [sic] to the 9 to 1 thing”, and the other stated: “10 till 1. We were drinking.”

Hickinbotham said they had not been drinking together the previous night.

She said Rosselloty arrived at her simplex at 6.30 am on April 17 and told her about the fire. After he had returned some phone calls on his cellphone he remarked that he was “probably now going to be arrested and implicated in whatever had happened”.

“He said he had to leave to go hand himself over and he said we need to help him.”

By “we” she had assumed he was referring to her and Jo, the woman who had given birth to Rosselloty’s child the previous day.

Rosselloty’s attorney said he would deny sending the SMSes to Hickinbotham and maintain that he was not in possession of his cellphones at the time as they were with the police.

Police investigating officer Andrew Salzwedel confirmed he took away Rosselloty’s two cellphones, but said he returned one to him briefly when Rosselloty asked to call his attorney.

Salzwedel said that Rosselloty told him in an interveiw that he was in New Hanover (en route to the Mighty Men conference) when he received a call in the early hours of the morning telling him his simplex was on fire.

Rosselloty is expected to testify today.

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