Woman jailed for ‘cruel’ murder

2010-02-17 00:00

“CRUEL” and “heartless” was how Judge Wendy Hughes-Madondo yesterday described Michelle Nadasen (23) of Brackenham, Richards Bay, before she sentenced her to 25 years’ imprisonment for the murder of a father of two, Gansen Gounden (37), on January 3.

Nadasen described in a statement how her 17-year-old lover had dug a grave for the body under a mango tree and how she had called Gounden on her cellphone to invite him to meet her. When Gounden arrived, her lover, who had hidden behind the tree, hit him over the head several times with a spade.

Nadasen alleged that earlier that day, Gounden had made unwanted sexual advances towards her and “fondled” her, as he had done over many years, but which she had not reported to any­one.

The judge found there were circumstances favouring Nadasen that entitled the court to depart from the minimum prescribed sentence of life imprisonment. However, the sentence she imposed is meant to “balance the scales of justice” to send a clear message that courts would not be held to ransom by people in similar circumstances to Nadasen, she said.

She ordered that Nadasen must serve two-thirds of the 25-year jail term and dismissed an application by Nadasen’s legal aid lawyer, Ishi Khan, for leave to appeal against the severity of the sentence.

During sentence, the judge described the killing of Gounden as “horrendous and gruesome”.

Four days after the killing, fearing police would find the body, they had exhumed it, loaded it into a bin, driven to the Ntseleni River and thrown it over the bridge into the crocodile-infested water. When it was recovered there was only a skull remaining along with the lower torso and limbs without feet and ankles. The only identifying marks were a birthmark and tattoo on the thighs.

The judge said that from the description in Nadasen’s plea, the possibility existed that Gounden may not have been dead when he was buried by her co-accused (who is to stand trial separately).

She’d stated in her plea that her boyfriend asked her to get a plastic bag to tie Gounden’s hands as he was not yet dead. She then went away, and on her return 15 minutes later he had already buried Gounden.

The judge said Khan had made much of the fact that Nadasen was “petite, shy and soft-spoken”, but in actual fact this weighed against her. Looking at the postmortem report, she said, Gounden, too, was of small build.

Despite her size, Nadasen had no difficulty in helping her boyfriend to carry a bin with Gounden’s body, load it on to a bakkie and later throw it over the bridge. She’d also had no difficulty in hatching the plan to lure Gounden to be murdered, knowing what was to happen. “You watched every blow without attempting to stop (him),” Judge Hughes-Madondo said.

She said the fact that Nadasen allowed her boyfriend to bury Gounden when he may not have been dead revealed that she was heartless.

She said she also found “disturbing” the fact that Nadasen had been able to sleep for four nights while Gounden’s body lay buried in her back yard under a mango tree.

On January 7, police established that she had called Gounden before his death, and they demanded her cellphone.

Instead of using the opportunity to confess to them and describe the events that had occurred, she had tried to put the police off the trail by giving them another cellphone.

The judge said she did not believe Nadasen when she claimed she was afraid of her boyfriend.

Instead it was the court’s view that she had deliberately told her boyfriend about Gounden’s advances, knowing how he would react.

The judge took into account Nadasen’s guilty plea, her testimony against her boyfriend and her seemingly sincere expression of remorse.

ingrido@witness.co.za

 

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