Ex-Bulls' court case interrupted

2014-07-18 19:52

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Durban - The trial of alleged axe murderer and former Blue Bulls rugby player Joseph Phindile Ntshongwana was disrupted in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on Friday when two prisoners set off a fire alarm.

At first it was believed someone had opened an alarmed door by mistake, but then it was established that prisoners waiting below the court where Ntshongwana's trial was being heard, had smashed the glass cover on a fire alarm.

As the alarm wailed, people in the public gallery dispersed and court officials milled about. Maintenance staff hurried past Ntshongwana in the dock to reach the cells to deal with the problem.

Proceedings started again 20 minutes later, after the alarm was silenced and a new glass cover fitted.

Ntshongwana has denied guilt on four counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, one of assault to do grievous bodily harm and another of kidnapping and raping a woman.

He allegedly killed his victims with an axe.

His lawyer Themba Mjoli previously told the court Ntshongwana had no memory of the alleged crimes.

Psychiatric disorder

Specialist psychiatrist John Dunn, who was part of the team which assessed Ntshongwana after his arrest, said all the doctors agreed that he had a serious mental illness.

The defence's position was that the offences were committed as a result of Ntshongwana's mental condition.

However, three psychiatrists called by the State have testified that his condition was not so severe that he could not tell the difference between right and wrong, or appreciate the wrongfulness of the crimes.

Cross-examined by Mjoli, Dunn said: "At the time of the offences, it is reasonable to say that he was suffering from a psychiatric disorder which could well have influenced his behaviour in certain circumstances.

"We have no information as to what was going on - the mental state - he has not told us."

Dunn said there was nothing to indicate that, at the time of the offences, Ntshongwana was compelled to do something and nothing to indicate he was unaware of what he was doing.

Ntshongwana's mother was expected to give evidence when the trial resumed on Monday.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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