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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Teenage murderer ‘conniving, manipulative’

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File Picture: Shandel Kisten, convicted murderer, leaves the Durban Magistrates court after with her lawyer.

Describing young killer Shandel Kisten as conniving and manipulative, Durban Regional Court magistrate Anand Maharaj has convicted her of premeditated murder.

Kisten, 18, who is expected to be sentenced on Friday, initially pleaded guilty to the murder of her stepfather Selvanathan Chetty, in 2009, but last month she claimed her mother had been the main perpetrator of the crime and she had only helped.

She said in her initial guilty plea that she had acted alone in drugging Chetty with sleeping tablets and then strangling him with the belt of a dressing-gown.

However, last month, Maharaj changed Kisten’s plea to not guilty after she said her mother Lucy Chetty, had put the sleeping tablets in his tea and started to strangle him, but he had overpowered her. Her mother had then asked for her help, she said.

Maharaj said Kisten was a “stranger to the truth” and rejected her second version as it had inconsistencies which were not explained to the court.

“It seems improbable that her mother, while being overpowered, would call for help and tell her daughter to help her or else the stepfather would implicate them both in the crime.

“There is inconsistency in how she explains her role, yet she describes in detail her mother’s involvement. It seems more probable that she substituted her mother in the role that she had played herself.

“The court is of the view that the averments made in the original version have a ring of truth.”

He said it was “highly probable” that Kisten had been assured that she would not go to jail owing to her tender age at the time of the murder.

“She seemed confident that she was not going to prison when she spoke to the Correctional Services officer after she pleaded guilty.

“This late disclosure regarding her mother’s involvement seems to be her trump card at the eleventh hour in order to escape looming imprisonment.”

He added that Kisten’s biological father, Gordon, who testified on her behalf on Wednesday, had been a poor and unreliable witness.

“He struck the court as a person who would change his tune at a whim and make fanciful claims based on hearsay. No reliability can be placed on his far-fetched claims.”

Childline’s Joan van Niekerk, who was called to testify by the defence, argued strongly that Kisten be given an opportunity to live as a responsible law-abiding citizen.

“She deserves an opportunity in this world. Her relationship with her own six-month-old baby speaks to the fact that she has the capability to become a responsible individual in society.

“She has had a difficult start to life, and I do not think she is a danger to society.”

Kisten’s attorney Siven Samuel, said his client should be sentenced as a child.

“She was a child when this offence was committed, therefore she should be sentenced as if she was still a minor. The sentence must not be harmful to herself and her family unit.”

Prosecutor Val Melis argued that Kisten was not remorseful and that she should serve a term of imprisonment. – The Mercury

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Teenage murderer ‘conniving, manipulative’

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