Psychiatrist disputes ex-Bull player's amnesia

2014-07-15 05:00
Joseph Ntshongwana. (Dries Liebenberg, Beeld)

Joseph Ntshongwana. (Dries Liebenberg, Beeld)

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Durban - There is no psychotic disorder that encompasses having amnesia for four months, the High Court in Durban heard on Monday.

Psychiatrist Dr Soobiah Moodley was giving evidence in the multiple murder trial of former Blue Bulls' rugby player Joseph Phindile Ntshongwana.

He testified that Ntshongwana had told him he could not recall anything from the end of November 2010 to the end of March 2011, the period Ntshongwana is alleged to have carried out three murders.

Ntshongwana has denied murdering Thembelenkosini Cebekhulu in Montclair, Durban, on 20 March 2011, Paulos Hlongwa two days later, Simon Ngidi the following day, and an unidentified man sometime that week. All were hacked to death with an axe.

The State has said that the axe was found in a dog kennel hidden at Ntshongwana's home outside Durban.

He has also pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder, and kidnapping and raping a woman in November, 2010, as well as assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Moodley previously testified that Ntshongwana suffered from schizoaffective disorder, but that did not mean he could not distinguish right from wrong or that he was not aware of his actions.

Professor Abubuker Gangat, a psychologist called by the defence at the previous hearing, testified that the accused was suffering from a delusional disorder.

Moodley told Acting Judge Irfaan Khalil: "The degrees of amnesia here [four months] is not possible… there is no memory lapse in a delusional disorder… the person knows what he has done… his memory is totally intact."

Ntshongwana's alleged actions were not in keeping with a psychotic person, he said.


He allegedly went out at night, looked at the victims for some time, then attacked them when they were alone, he said.

"A psychotic person does not run away from the scene of a crime. And not only did he allegedly run away, but he concealed the evidence."

Moodley said that with respect to Gangat, who testified that Ntshongwana suffered from a delusional disorder, he had excluded other symptoms.

With delusional disorder, a person did not have other symtoms, such as aggression.

When Ntshongwana was re-admitted to R K Khan Hospital in Chatsworth, with a relapse of manic and psychotic symptoms, a doctor described his behaviour as "hostile, argumentative and threatening".

Whether Ntshongwana had a delusional disorder or a schizoaffective disorder, all the doctors involved had agreed that he had a serious mental illness, Moodley said.

Themba Mjoli, for Ntshongwana, asked him whether the "real world has collided with the [accused's] imaginary world".

Moodley said: "No, he is severely mentally ill and when you are severely mentally ill, you live in your own world."

The court heard that a psychiatrist at the RK Khan Hospital, Dr Zuber Moola, had said in a report that Ntshongwana felt he was being persecuted; that people were following him and out to kill him. He also accused his sister of trying to poison his food.

Earlier, the court turned down an application by Mjoli for his client to be sent for another mental observation.

He argued that since Ntshongwana could not remember his alleged actions, Mjoli could not take instructions.

"How can you confidentially say that you are defending the man?" he argued.

There was nothing to stop the court ordering another inquiry to determine if Ntshongwana was criminally responsible at the time of the alleged offences. An earlier inquiry by a panel of psychiatrists had not reached a unanimous decision.

Ruling the application "ill-founded", the acting judge said Mjoli had pointed out at the start of the trial two years ago, that he was unable to take instructions, "so it is not something that has just sprung up this morning".

Even if Ntshongwana could not remember the alleged incidents, he could clearly understand the charges and, where necessary, he had confirmed various admissions made throughout the proceedings.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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