Gawkers pack court as ‘axeman’ appears

2011-04-15 00:00

LIKE a circus, Durban Magistrate’s Court 10 was filled beyond capacity yesterday and the main attraction was accused axe murderer Phindile Joseph Ntshongwana.

Orderlies unrelated to the case, prosecutors who should have been long gone after tending to their trials and even suspects from previous hearings all lingered to have a peek at the six-foot former Blue Bulls flanker accused of butchering three people with an axe, decapitating two of them.

A ward councillor, who seized the opportunity to garner support ahead of the local government elections, sought to console families of the deceased.

In stark contrast to last week, Ntshongwana took to the dock with minimal assistance from the police task team, but still appeared agitated and disorientated.

Last week he was physically forced out of the holding cell while clutching a Bible — a petrified man looking completely lost.

The case was adjourned pending a medical examination of the accused, and following a desperate plea from his father, Liston, who said he suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Yesterday the state said that district surgeon Dr V.B. Mohamed had deemed the accused fit to stand trial, but this was not acted upon pending clarification, and the accused is yet to be sent for a comprehensive psychological assessment.

Ntshongwana’s attorney, Carl van de Merwe, produced evidence that the accused is extremely mentally unstable, and requires intensive medical attention.

“Mr Ntshongwana was first seen at King George V Hospital on December 23, 2006,” read a psychiatric report by Dr S.B. Maharaj.

“He was admitted to the psychiatry department where he has had two admissions.

“He absconded and went to Cape Town.”

Magistrate Anita Naidoo adjourned the case to May 30, during which time the accused will undergo medical evaluations and treatment.

It is likely that he will have to stay in a holding cell until his trial, since a bed is available at Fort Napier psychiatric hospital only in October.

He is accused of murdering Thembelenkosini Cebekhulu of Montclair, an unknown man in Umbilo and Paulos Hlongwa in Lamontville. He is also facing an attempted murder charge, for having allegedly assaulted Khayelani Mdluli with an axe in Lamontville, and a fifth charge of assault.

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