In January 2010, Gansen Gounden was buried alive under a mango tree and his body exhumed four days later and thrown into the crocodile-infested Enseleni River.
DURBAN: It is a crime people talk about 10 years after it took place in the small town of Richard’s Bay on the KZN North Coast.
On January 2010, a 37-year-old Brackenham man, Gansen Gounden, was hit with a spade, buried alive and later, his body exhumed and thrown into the crocodile-infested Enseleni River.
The killer was a 17-year-old teenager.
And while Keegan Govender maintained his innocence throughout the trial, saying that it was in fact his older lover Michelle Nadasen, then 24, who was solely responsible, his alibi was not watertight.
After a plethora of evidence, including graphic pictures, was presented over weeks during the trial, in July 2012, High Court Judge Mohini Moodley found Govender, then 19, guilty and sentenced him to 17 years behind bars.
The court did not accept Govender’s alibi that he had been at the beach with his family on the day of the murder.
The court found that Govender had in fact killed Gounden and later, transported his body in a bin in the back of his father’s van to the river and threw it over the bridge into the river.
Members of the Richards Bay SAPS arrested him shortly afterwards.
Govender pointed out the mango tree, where Gounden’s body lay for four days.
Days after the murder, Nadasen, a mother of one, pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 25 years behind bars in the Pietermaritzburg High Court and turned State witness.
Testifying during her lover’s murder trial, a soft-spoken Nadasen claimed she had played a diminished role in the murder and Govender was the mastermind behind the January 7, 2010 killing.
Reliving the moments leading up the murder, Nadasen told the court that Gounden had fondled her breasts and private parts on January 7.
She said Gounden and her father had often drank together and on that day, had given her father money to buy beers.
She said while her father was out, Gounden began fondling her.
Nadasen told the court she was grateful when her father arrived and telephoned her boyfriend (Keegan) to tell him what happened.
“He instructed me to lock myself in my room until he arrived.”
Nadasen told the court that by the time her boyfriend arrived, Gounden had left.
They came up with a plan to lure Gounden back to her house.
“He told me he was going to bury Gounden in the backyard. While he dug a grave under the mango tree, I called Gounden and pretended I wanted to see him.
“I told him to jump over the back fence because my father was in the house.”
Nadasen said that when Gounden arrived, Govender hit him with the flat end of the spade on the side of his head and in the face.
“I was afraid and ran inside and sat in the lounge with my father.”
Nadasen said she did not watch Govender bury Gounden and that she had told him not to kill him.
“He told me he was jealous and that he did not want Gounden to touch me. He said killing him was the only solution as this was not the first time he (Gounden) had tried to fondle me.”
Investigating officer Sydney Thavasaigan told the court that only the upper torso of Gounden remained and they had to be careful about removing it as the river was infested with crocodiles.
After a three-week trial, and 11 witnesses, Judge Moodley found Govender’s version fraught with improbabilities and rejected his version of events in its entirety.
She added that although he was young, “he was not so youthful or ignorant that he could not appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct”.
The deceased’s sister-in-law, Sharon Gounden, described her brother in law as a “happy-go-lucky person” and told the court that she had been caring for his children, aged 11 and seven, following his death.
Speaking to IOL this week, chairperson of the Civic Association in Brackenham Ray Govender said the murder was one of the worst the community had seen. They had named it the “Spade Murder”.
“Oh yes, everyone still remembers it, we all know both families and definitely one of the most gruesome the town has seen.”