Bernadette Wicks
Senior court reporter
2 minute read
15 Jan 2022
6:30 am

Court upholds SA’s landmark murder ruling

Bernadette Wicks

The 2014 murder ruling by Malmesbury Regional Court, marked the first successful private prosecution for murder in South Africa.

Picture: iStock

The Western Cape High Court has upheld the landmark 2014 ruling, which marked the first successful private prosecution for murder in SA.

Earlier this week, Judges Deidre Kusevitsky and Chantel Fortuin dismissed Faizel Hendricks’ appeal against Malmesbury Regional Court Magistrate Michelle Adams’ 2014 finding that he was guilty of murdering his then girlfriend, Rochelle Naidoo.

The version Hendricks – who testified at an inquest into Naidoo’s death but not at his trial – put up was that she had shot herself with his firearm after he told her he was leaving her. But Kusevitsky and Fortuin pointed to blood evidence, as well as the injuries on her bruised and battered body, and found ultimately that she was shot in the
mouth “to look like she had committed suicide”.

“What is more probable is that [Hendricks] shoved the firearm in the deceased’s mouth and in her attempt to grab hold of it and pull it out, covering [his] hands, the trigger was pulled [by Hendricks],” said Kusevitsky, who
penned the judgment.

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Kusevitsky added that this would explain gunshot residue later found on Naidoo’s hands. After Naidoo’s death, Hendricks did not immediately call for help, nor did he call Naidoo’s parents to tell them what had happened.

He was also less than upfront with police about what had happened that night. Kusevitsky further described this behaviour as “questionable if this indeed had been suicide”.

“I am satisified that the private prosecutor proved beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased had been murdered and that the magistrate correctly convicted [Hendricks] on a charge of murder,” Kusevitsky said.

Naidoo was shot and killed in her Cape Town flat in June 2005. An inquest into her death found the cause was unclear and the National Prosecuting Authority subsequently issued a certificate nolle prosequi (confirming it would
not prosecute).

But her parents, convinced their daughter had not taken her own life, launched a private prosecution, headed up by advocate Gideon Scheltema. In July 2014, Hendricks was found guilty of murdering Naidoo and in 2016 he was given 15 years behind bars.