Suspect in 2014 rape, murder case to undergo mental assessment

2016-06-15 11:20

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Pietermaritzburg - The Pietermaritzburg man charged with the 2014 rape and murder of his girlfriend Letisha Naidoo (20), whose body was disposed of in a sewer, will be delayed indefinitely while he undergoes a mental assessment.

Pietermaritzburg advocate Di Franklin yesterday took over Christopher Sabbadu’s defence after his legal aid lawyer Lauren Marais withdrew last week after he gave her “conflicting instructions”.

Franklin told Acting Judge Christo van Schalkwyk that there was a question mark over whether Sabbadu had the mental capacity to understand the court proceedings.

She asked the court to refer him for a period of mental observation to establish if he was fit to stand trial and could give proper instructions to his defence counsel, and whether he was suffering from any mental illness or defect at the time when he allegedly committed the crimes.

Sabbadu’s father Sorrin Sabbadu told the court that his son always performed very poorly in school and he had not passed Grade 9. He said he had trouble “understanding words”. He handed in Sabbadu’s last school report, which Franklin said showed poor marks and may be an indication that he suffers from mild mental retardation.

State advocate Frank van Heerden said while the prosecution had reservations about whether Sabbadu’s educational difficulties supported a conclusion that he lacked the mental capacity to understand the proceedings, only psychiatric experts could establish if that was the case. For that reason the state did not oppose the application to refer Sabbadu for a mental inquiry.

Acting Judge Van Schalkwyk ordered that arrangements be made for Sabbadu to be referred to Fort Napier Hospital for 30 days’ mental observation, which can only happen once a bed becomes available at the hospital.

In the meantime, the court adjourned the trial until July 29.

Earlier, Sabbadu pleaded not guilty to the charges facing him. The prosecution alleges he planned to rape and kill Naidoo, with whom he had had a tumultuous relationship, and enlisted help from four friends.

The group, armed with knives and plastic bags, allegedly lured Naidoo to a secluded area near Mysore Road. There they assaulted her, grabbed her and forced her to the ground. She was allegedly raped in turn by two of the men, was repeatedly assaulted, stabbed and throttled. Afterwards she was wrapped in plastic bags and dumped in the adjacent sewer canal.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  murder  |  rape  |  court

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