Witnesses ‘very afraid’ of accused

2013-10-02 00:00

WITNESSES to the murder of Rashmika Janthielayal (16) at the Northdale FET College campus on June 3 are all afraid of her alleged killer, Claudius Chetty (19).

This was said yesterday by the investigating officer, Sergeant Sheldon Norman, who is opposing bail being granted to Chetty.

Chetty abandoned his bail application shortly after his arrest, but has now decided to again apply for bail.

In his affidavit read to court by his attorney, Anand Pillay, Chetty said he wants to state “quite categorically” that he intends to plead not guilty to the murder charge.

He, however, declined to discuss the merits of the case, saying it would be premature and prejudicial to him to disclose the basis of his defence at this stage as he had not had an opportunity to fully consult his lawyers since his arrest on June 4.

But Norman told regional court magistrate Bheki­zitha Phoswa yesterday that the state has a “very strong” case against Chetty that includes evidence by eyewitnesses who saw him stab Janthielayal.

He said the victim’s best friend, who is 18 years old, had seen the stabbing and would be “very traumatised” if Chetty was released on bail. “She was very upset and is very afraid. She is undergoing counselling,” he said.

He said the state alleges that on the day of the murder, Chetty had contacted Janthielayal and she met him outside a classroom. “He was her boyfriend,” he said.

“They proceeded to the end of the passage … the accused and the victim were speaking. According to witnesses, the accused handed the victim a letter. He then produced a knife and he stabbed her several times.”

Norman said according to the postmortem report, Janthielayal was stabbed over 14 times on various parts of her body, including her face, neck, arms and torso.

The court heard that there had been a public outcry over the murder and various newspapers had published articles about the viciousness of the attack. “I don’t think that the accused should be released on bail,” said Norman.

He added that he would not be able to guarantee the safety of state witnesses, nor of Chetty himself, if he was released on bail.

The court was also told that Chetty has a pending case of assault against him. Norman said the charge is one of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, while in his affidavit Chetty stated merely that he is charged with “assault” together with a co-accused.

In his affidavit, Chetty said he has lived with his mother in Copesville since birth, is unemployed as he is a student and is being financially supported by his mother and brother. “My arrest has brought considerable stress on members of my family and friends with whom I share a very close relationship,” he added.

At the time of his arrest, Chetty was enrolled for a course in the hospitality industry at Umgungundlovu FET College in Northdale.

He said he has a stable family background, and an “unblemished record” as he has never been convicted of an offence and there was no likelihood that if released on bail he would endanger anyone.

The bail application is proceeding today.

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