Two Throb victims tell of tragedy

2000-11-30 19:28

Durban - Two Throb nightclub victims who survived the March 24 tragedy in which 13 teenagers died and over 100 were injured in a teargas attack, made an emotional plea on Thursday for justice to be done.

Sumeshnie Pillay, 15, who lost her best friend in the attack, and Therushia Moodley, 16, testified before Judge Jan Hugo in the Durban High Court how an end-of-term celebration ended in tragedy when a teargas canister was detonated inside a packed disco.

Vincent Pillay, Selvan Naidoo and Sivanthan Chetty are on trial for the attack, facing 13 murder and 56 assault charges and one for the illegal possession of teargas.

Moodley said the attack changed her life.

She was unconscious in the intensive care unit for five days, her left leg was brokenin two places and she had severe burns on her leg which required plastic surgery.

She also lost a front tooth and had facial bruises.

Her injuries restricted her from participating in sport which prior to the incident played an active role in her life.

She did not attend school for the second term and this had affected her Grade 11 year.

The teenager said the club was "filled to capacity" and the owner should not have allowed so many people inside.

Earlier Sumeshnie Pillay told the court how she was trampled as children tried to flee from the building.

Sumeshnie's best friend Gurasha Naidoo, died in the attack.

"The reason why I am here today is because the deceased cannot speak for themselves. I speak on behalf of them and I want justice done because it is not fair that their lives were taken."

Pillay said she was in the toilet when she heard the children screaming. She went to see what had happened and fell, with her long hair becoming trapped as children ran over her.

"My eyes were burning, my skin felt as if something was eating it. I couldn't breath. I was frightened and scared and I thought I would never see daylight again."

She said she went back to the toilet once she had freed herself and opened a window for fresh air. She telephoned the police on her cellphone. Pillay said an injured girl asked her for help, but she could not assist her.

She said she eventually fainted and was carried to safety by a man.

"I was so happy to see daylight," she said.

Detective Inspector Sagaren Govender told of the events which led police to the accused.

He said blood-stained clothing that reeked of teargas was found at Vincent Pillay's residence.

Cross-examination of Govender will continue on Friday. - Sapa