Govindsamy case: ‘I killed her, but I was a robot’

2009-05-18 00:00

HOWICK man Jaiseelan Govindsamy (41) admitted in an affidavit in support of his bail application on Friday that he stabbed and killed his estranged wife, Anthea, on March 25, 2007, but said he will plead not guilty to her murder, relying on a defence of “sane automatism”.

He is charged with stabbing his wife multiple times in front of the couple’s two young children at Howick Falls after a disagreement. The state alleges she had previously obtained a protection order against him.

Govindsamy was denied bail by acting judge Rose Mogwera, who found he had not shown that exceptional circumstances exist to justify his release on bail. She agreed with submissions by state advocate Dheelan Naidoo, who said Govindsamy will only be in custody for a short time until the finalisation of his trial, which is scheduled to start on July 27.

In an affidavit Govindsamy, a former staff nurse at Umgeni Hospital in Howick, said the fact that he has been in custody since the killing has “gravely and adversely” affected his financial situation.

Regarding his intended defence, he said: “A qualified clinical psychologist, Lingum Pillay, has assessed me for the purpose of ascertaining the role of psychological factors with regards to my mental competence and behavioural control at the time I killed my wife.

“He conducted in-depth interviews with me and subjected me to a battery of psychological tests and he has concluded that it has to be regarded that my actions ... were not voluntary and nor were they premeditated or goal directed.”

Govindsamy said Pillay found his thinking, capacity to reason and control of his behaviour were all impaired at the time of the killing.

“I stress that although psychological factors underpinned my actions and led to the death of my wife, I am not psychologically unstable and do not constitute a danger to others.”

He added he has been assessed by state psychiatrists as well.

Govindsamy said his defence is costing him a large amount of money, the past week alone having cost more than R100 000.

He also said being in jail is not conducive to his “physical and emotional well-being” and that as a result he was likely to go on trial “in a physically and mentally compromised state”, which is unjust.

Naidoo said in response the majority of detainees would be affected by being kept in custody, which was by its nature “not a very pleasant experience”.

Investigating officer Sergeant George Khena said a key state witness who tried to intervene was threatened by Govindsamy. The witness, a close friend of Anthea Govindsamy, was also previously threatened by the accused, he added. He said family members of the victim felt “bad” at the thought of Govindsamy being released on bail and felt their lives would be endangered”.

He said it is alleged Govindsamy abused drugs and threatened his wife which led to her getting a protection order.

There is a custody battle going on over the couple’s children.

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