Court orders suicide report

2011-06-29 14:23

A Linden man accused of killing his wife and son must be assessed for “suicidal tendencies”, the Johannesburg Magistrates Court ordered today.

Magistrate Pieter du Plessis ordered Johannesburg Prison psychiatrist Dr Maxwell Matjani to determine and write a report on Ben Engelbrecht’s “likelihood of suicidal tendencies”.

Du Plessis said he wanted someone trained in human behaviour to tell the court whether Engelbrecht would do something as “drastic as escaping justice by committing suicide”.

The case was postponed until July 6, when Engelbrecht’s bail application would continue. Engelbrecht (51) would remain in the prison’s hospital wing until then.

Du Plessis said the court noted that Engelbrecht had waived his doctor-patient privilege so that the report could be placed on the court record.

During proceedings today, Engelbrecht turned around and loudly shushed the noisy courtroom so he could hear what was being said.

He was moved to the prison’s hospital wing after his last court appearance, said his lawyer SW van der Merwe.
Du Plessis endorsed the move, saying he would be properly supervised there.

Sterkfontein psychiatric hospital forensic section head Dr Eddie Pak testified today that Engelbrecht was still on the hospital’s waiting list for psychiatric evaluation.

The court subpoenaed Pak to testify because Engelbrecht had been waiting for a bed in Sterkfontein since earlier this month.
Pak said there had been a backlog at the hospital for the past couple of years.

There were now 98 people on the list, which was “a fairly long waiting list”. He said the hospital was trying to reduce the backlog by adding more psychiatrists and beds.

“By next year we are looking at a much smaller waiting list,” Pak said.

Asked how long it would take to do the psychiatric assessment and compile a report, he said “about a week”.

Van der Merwe said Matjani had a five-minute session with Engelbrecht last week. He would one more session with Engelbrecht before writing up a report.

Speaking outside court, Engelbrecht’s sister Lynnette Mann said she was “relieved” and that her brother “looks strong”.

She said the family could see his spirit was lifted. “Three weeks ago we would not have said that,” Mann said.

Engelbrecht allegedly strangled his wife Ina (49) and their son, Kobus (22) who was wheelchair-bound after being paralysed in a high school rugby accident, in their beds on May 27.

After their deaths, Engelbrecht contacted his brother who arrived to him trying to commit suicide by gassing himself in his car and pulled him out of the vehicle.

Paramedics later declared him medically fit. 

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