Accused fit for trial, court told

2013-04-22 19:02
Kirsty Theologo (Picture: Sapa)

Kirsty Theologo (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - A man who admitted to setting a teenage girl alight in an apparent satanic ritual could account for his actions on the night, the South Gauteng High Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court heard on Monday.

Lindon Wagner had been assessed and found fit to stand trial, Sterkfontein Hospital psychiatrist Eddie Pak told the court.

"Looking at how he was on the days prior to the incident, his behaviour, his recovery, his emotions... there was no psychiatric condition there."

Wagner and three others are accused of killing Kirsty Theologo by dousing her with petrol and setting her on fire on a hill behind the Linmeyer swimming pool, south of Johannesburg, on 21 October 2011.

She died a week later at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. Her friend, who was also burnt, survived.

The four pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder, and assault to cause grievous bodily harm.

Wagner admitted to throttling the girl who survived the attack, as well setting both of them alight.

His lawyer Lydia Van Niekerk said her client could not control his actions at the time. Last week, she said he was not able to control his will during the attack.

Pak said although Wagner told him he had smoked dagga and drank alcohol on the night, it did not mean he was mentally ill.

"Intoxication is not seen as a mental illness."

Pak said it was also unlikely for a mentally ill person to recover so quickly after such an event.

Van Niekerk told Pak the girl who survived the attack described her client as gentle and sweet.

"Would this sort of behaviour then be normal?" she asked.

Pak replied Wagner went to work that day and that he was sober.

Wagner and others had been discussing Satanism and the ritual weeks before it happened, showing his actions were not sudden or out of character, he said.

A group of people were not likely to suffer from the same sort of mental illness at exactly the same time.

Last week another of the accused, Robin Harwood, said he could also not explain his actions. In a statement said he helped tie down the girls and saw petrol being poured on them, and that it felt like a dream.

Pak said he had treated two of Wagners' relatives for issues related to mental illness. Although there was a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in Wagner's family, he himself had not shown any symptoms.

Pak said the assessment covered Wagner's background and upbringing. Wagner had a difficult childhood, growing up without a father.

When he was 13 an arrangement was made for him to meet his father, but the appointment was cancelled.

He was educated up to Grade 8 and started experimenting with drugs in his teenage years.

"Anyone of us can perform strange, bizarre actions because of who we are," said Pak.

"Our attitudes, up-bringing, personalities... but to be frank, you get different types of personalities.

"Some are better behaved and some are not along those lines."

The trial continues.
Read more on:    kirsty theologo  |  johannesburg

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