Three life sentences for killer

2013-01-22 00:00

LOUD applause from the public gallery greeted three life sentences meted out to 21-year-old Erwin Ramsamuj yesterday for the execution-style murder of his former girlfriend and two men at a home in Northdale in 2011.

Acting Judge Jerome Ngwenya said Ramsamuj showed no contrition for the “brutal, heartless” murders of Merle Maistry (40), Kubendran “Jeff” Pillay and Musawenkosi Ndlovu (32).

The trio were shot in the small lounge of Pillay’s Larkspur Road home on May 18, 2011.

Ramsamuj, who was convicted last month, still maintained yesterday that he was innocent of the crimes.

“The deceased were killed like flies,” Ngwenya said.

He said that after shooting the victims in the head, Ramsamuj had tried to create an alibi by going to a shebeen.

Ngwenya said the court still didn’t know why three innocent people had had to die.

Ramsamuj’s advocate, Brad Osborne, had submitted that it was a “crime of passion” and the result of an emotional outburst.

However, the judge said that if that were so, it was unclear what had prompted it as there had been a “cooling off period” between the time Ramsamuj had thrown a beer bottle in an emotional state and the time of the shooting.

The judge also took into account the way the victims were shot in the head, execution style.

During his submissions earlier, state advocate Roan du Preez said Ramsamuj used a pistol to shoot the victims, and cocked it each time before putting the gun to their heads and pulling the trigger.

The court accepted the evidence of a 10-year-old boy who saw part of the shooting.

He said he saw Ramsamuj place a gun to Pillay’s head and heard a shot as he fled.

The court heard that Maistry, Pillay and others were drinking beer together at Pillay’s house on the day.

Ramsamuj was aggressive and lost his temper during an argument when Maistry refused to give him her cellphone. The shooting occurred a while later.

In his testimony, Ramsamuj denied ever possessing a firearm and shooting the victims.

The judge said a pre-sentencing report prepared by a probation officer did not paint a favourable picture of Ramsamuj.

His mother and grandmother said he was well-behaved, but others gave contradictory views.

Maistry’s mother, Jennifer Frank, described him as a “rude, aggressive and violent child”, who abused her daughter verbally and physically, sometimes in her presence.

She described the couple’s relationship as “toxic”.

“She [Merle] lived in fear and obeyed the accused’s rules, even though he was younger than her,” the report stated.

Maistry was a breadwinner and had four children, the youngest being 11 years old.

According to the report, little is known about Pillay. He lived alone and his mother lives in a home for the aged.

Ndlovu, who worked as a machine operator, had four children.

His mother also described Ramsamuj as a “violent and troublesome child” who was always involved in fights.

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