'She lost her life in the most horrific manner' - judge hands life sentence to man who set lover on fire

2018-12-16 07:03
Prison cell. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

Prison cell. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

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Cynthia Naidoo hopes that her 27-year-old daughter Tisha Naidoo, who died after she was set alight by her live-in-lover Niresh Singh two years ago, will finally rest in peace following his sentencing.

"This has been so hard for our family… he (Singh) was putting the blame on my daughter and she was not here to defend herself," the emotional mother said.

In spite of his pleas of innocence – and claims that she had done it to herself – KwaZulu-Natal High Court Judge Esther Steyn convicted Singh of premeditated murder last month and, on Friday, sentenced him to life imprisonment.

She also denied him leave to appeal his conviction and sentence.

"He got the petrol, he got the matches and he set her alight… in my view, that is premeditation.

"And the aggravating circumstances far outweigh any mitigating circumstances," the judge said.

'Serious social evil'

"He also did not take this court into his confidence… instead persisting with his version which, on the objective facts, could not possibly be true.

"She lost her life in the most horrific manner in her own home where she should have been safe.

"No one has the right to take a life. Domestic violence is on the increase. It is a serious social evil."

The judge found that he had set fire to her in the toilet of the house they shared in KwaDukuza while she was hiding from him. Earlier that evening, she had taken their seven-year-old son to her sister, Nikita Naidoo, who lived two doors away.

Nikita and other relatives heard her screams. They banged on the door but there was no response and they eventually kicked it down. They said Singh was sitting on the couch.

Nikita testified that she had rushed upstairs and found Tisha standing under a running shower, screaming in pain, with smoke coming out of her hair. The toilet door was off its hinges. There was a petrol container on the stairwell.

Crucial evidence

At one stage, Singh had come into the bathroom and Tisha said to him: "Look what you have done to me".

Singh replied: "Tell her (Nikita) that you did it to yourself."

Tisha died in hospital two days later. While there, she told a doctor that she had done it to herself. But crucial evidence was given by Lorraine Sewpersad, a nursing assistant at Stanger Hospital, who lived opposite, who had assisted that night.

She said at first Tisha said she had done it to herself but then, after asking if Singh was there and being told he was not, she said he had thrown petrol over her and then threw more under the door of the toilet and struck a match.

Forensic evidence also proved that she was in a "defensive position" with her back against the wall.

The judge praised the prosecutor, senior state advocate Cheryl Naidu, and police investigators for their professionalism and hard work and described the investigation and prosecution as "exceptional".

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Read more on:    durban  |  gender based violence  |  courts  |  domestic violence  |  crime
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