Durban – Widower Sagren Govindasamy will never see his oldest daughter walk down the aisle on her wedding day or his youngest fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor.
“My life has been thrown into turmoil,” said the machine operator.
He was speaking before the trial of his wife’s alleged lover, Colin Pillay, in the Durban High Court this week.
“I was the one who found their bodies in the house. Every time I close my eyes, I have flashbacks of those moments. I feel terrible inside and the loss of my two girls is eating me up. I want him (the accused) to get a life sentence for what he has done to my family. He needs to be punished.”
Govindasamy’s wife, Jane, 45, a receptionist, and her daughters, Denisha, 22, unemployed, and Nikita, 16, a Grade 11 pupil, were found dead in their Longcroft, Phoenix, flat in September 2018.
Jane was strangled and suffocated. Her body was found on the floor of her daughters’ bedroom.
Denisha’s body was stuffed into a wardrobe. She sustained multiple stab wounds to her neck.
Nikita was strangled and her body was found face-down on her bed.
Cutting a lonely figure, Govindasamy said shortly before her death Nikita told him she wanted to study medicine.
“Out of the blue, she came to me and said ‘Dad, you need to save up money for me, I want to become a doctor after I matriculate’. I was so proud and I told her not to worry, everything would work out.”
He said the day before Denisha died, she secured a job at a call centre.
“She was excited because she was planning to marry her fiancé (Macaelin Padayachee) and they wanted to buy a home.”
Govindasamy said he was aware his wife had an affair with Pillay but assumed it ended in 2012 when he confronted the accused about it. “If they were still together, I did not know of it.”
He said he moved out of the family home and was living with his mother.
“Other people are renting the property.”
Last week, a neighbour in the complex told the POST they held prayer sessions for three months after the killings, in the parking lot, to pray for peace.
Meanwhile, unable to cope with Denisha’s death, Padayachee said he numbed his pain by drinking bottles of whiskey and taking tranquillizers.
He said he even tried counselling.
“One day, I looked in the mirror and told myself I was looking like a dog. If Denisha saw me she would be heartbroken. She always wanted the best for me,” he said before Tuesday’s court proceedings.
In January, he cut down on his drinking and focused on his health.
Padayachee, 22, a call-centre team manager, said he and Denisha would have been married and perhaps planning a family, “but I am here alone at her murder trial”.
He said no length of sentence would be sufficient to atone for the damage that had been done.
The couple met in May 2016, while he was working at another call centre. “It took me a while to talk to her and after our first conversation, we became close.”
They started dating four months later.
In August 2018, a month before her death, Padayachee proposed to her at the King Shaka International Airport.
“She returned to South Africa after a work trip to Miami. I was not nervous about proposing because I was certain she was the one. She accepted on the spot.”
They planned to have a beach wedding, with a few guests, in March this year.
“We wanted two sons and were looking for a home.”
During the trial, Pillay, 46, a tow truck driver, pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder and theft.
In a statement read out by his legal aid attorney, Amanda Hulley, he claimed he was in a love relationship with Jane and knew she was married.
He said he was out gambling and fishing at the time of the murders and that when he returned from fishing, he booked into Kams Guest Lodge where he was later picked up by the police.
In the statement, he claimed the police put plastic over his head and assaulted him on the way to the Phoenix police station. He further stated that he was charged and detained.
State prosecutor Sheryl Naidu, however, described the murders as planned and premeditated.