Life in jail for ‘fire killer’
CHARLENE SOMDUTH email@example.com
PHOENIX father Kista Chetty has been sentenced to five life sentences for the murder of his wife, three children and nephew in November 2021.
Chetty’s extended family cried in the Durban High Court on Friday, when sentence was passed.
Following an argument with his wife, Elisha Naidoo, 39, Chetty set their one-bedroom flat in Whetstone, alight.
Naidoo, their daughter Jadene, 13, and sons Jordan, 8, and Aldrin, 4, and nephew Liam Naidoo, 8, burnt to death.
At the time, Chetty, who sustained burn wounds, fled the scene.
He was found later that day at a relative’s home in Phoenix and was admitted to the hospital for treatment.
Chetty was subsequently arrested and charged with five counts of murder, and six counts of attempted murder and arson. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
According to a report in POST in August, during the trial, Chetty, in a statement claimed he had fought with his brother-in-law, Deon Naidoo, who lived with them.
“Deon assaulted me and I had to leave home in order to diffuse the situation. When I left my house, I took my bush knife with me.”
He said he needed the knife for protection because he planned to go to Bhambayi, an area where he felt unsafe.
“When I got to Bhambayi, I had a few drinks, and in the afternoon I went to look for a place to sleep.”
Chetty said he had asked friends and a relative for a place to sleep, but they could not accommodate him and he was advised to return home.
“When I got home, I found that the door and the gate were locked. I shouted for my family to open, but they didn’t.”
He said he began banging on the door and gate. Chetty said his daughter Adelle eventually opened the door.
“She informed me that I must hand the knife to her if I wanted to come in.”
He said when he did what she asked, he was allowed into the home.
“I noticed that Deon was fast asleep on the couch. I proceeded to the room where my wife and children were. They were all awake. I asked my wife what was going on and what was happening to us. I told her that I have to leave my house to go to beg other people for a place to sleep just because Deon caused problems in our marriage. I then told her I was better off dead.”
He said that at this point he took his brush-cutter, which he kept on top of a wardrobe, together with a container of oil and petrol. Chetty said the container had a small amount of the mixture.
He said he poured some of the mixture into the cap of the container, which he then poured on to his clothes.
“I once again told my wife that I was better off dead. I then lit the spot on my chest and it immediately caught alight. When my clothes caught alight, my wife screamed that I was on fire. I immediately took off my top that was on fire and threw it on the floor.”
He said the top landed on the 5-litre container, causing it to explode and spread fire throughout the bedroom.
“I picked up the double bed and shouted at my wife and the kids to get out. My wife didn’t move. Adelle exited the room. The other kids were behind my wife. I kept shouting at them to get out, but my wife was frozen in one spot and the kids were just screaming.”
He said he put down the bed and went to Deon to get help.
Chetty said he then ran to his neighbour’s home where he filled a bucket with water to try to douse the flames, but the water did not help. He said Deon helped him get a hosepipe into the room.
Chetty said he then went looking for help and ended up at his brother-in-law Lionel’s house, and was told to go to the clinic to treat his burns. He complied but left the clinic before being treated.
In September, Judge Carol Sibiya found Chetty guilty of premeditated murder, six attempted murders and arson.
On Wednesday, during sentencing prosecutor Krishan Shah told the court Chetty had not shown any remorse for the killings, only regret for his current circumstances.
Shah said the murder of Elisha Naidoo was defined as “intimate partner femicide”, and she was no doubt the main target of Chetty’s anger that day.
“It is submitted that all the deceased endured the most cruel, excruciatingly painful and horrific deaths imaginable. Four of the deceased were minors who looked to the accused for nurturing and protection. The accused’s surviving daughters have been robbed of the love of their mother, siblings and cousin.”
Musa Chiliza, Chetty’s legal aid attorney, asked the court to consider that he was turning 60 and still had two other children who needed him.
Taking the stand, Chetty told the court that since the incident he had not been sleeping nor eating. “I only think about my family. I always think why I did not die on that day. I was left.”
Chetty said he wanted to be with his surviving children.
“I was not a bad person. I always respected my family. I want to give them love and be with them. They are crying for me. They need me.”
Judge Sibiya said the crime was conducted in a brutal and horrific manner.
She said neighbours who were also victims were still re-living the event and through the pre-sentencing probation report, one spoke of the trauma of being stuck in the flat with a 10-year-old child, while others still had flashbacks of the stench and screams from that day.
Judge Sibiya sentenced Chetty to five life sentences for each murder, seven years for the attempted murder charges and seven years for arson.
The sentences will run concurrently.
African News Agency