Najwa’s legal team mum on defence case

Argus

Reporter: Ella Smook

MUSIC ICONS WIDOW MAY TAKE STAND

Najwa Petersen’s legal team kept their cards close to their chest yesterday after she instructed them not to give out any information ahead of this morning’s resumption of the Taliep Petersen murder trial. While it was a strong possibility that the musician’s widow, who is on trial for his murder, could take the stand this morning, her lawyer Reaz Khan said he was instructed not to speak to the media ahead of the defence case, which was to be launched today. Najwa Petersen has, by way of her counsel during cross-examination of State witnesses, made several statements to counter-balance testimony, but unless the statemetns are repeated under oath, they will not carry much weight. The State closed its case last week, after tightening the screws with cellphone evidence which ostensibly supported the testimony of State witness Fahiem Hendricks. His statements gave police the link they needed to arrest the four people now standing trial for the murder of the musician. Petersen has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, conspiracy to murder and other related charges, along with her co-accused Abdoer Raasiet Emjedi and Jefferson Snyders. Waheed Hassen has admitted complicity. In her first formal statement to police, two days after the murder of her husband, Petrsen declared that she had “nothing to hide”. During the trial, however, it has become aparent that her defence will have to explain certain evidence and testimony led by the State – particularly the testimony of Hendricks, and cellphone records which show an unprecedented volume of calls between Petersen and Hendricks in the days leading up to Taliep Petersen’s murder. Petersen’s advocate, Klaus von Lieres und Wilkau, has already given some indication of what Petersen’s version of events could be, and what she could say if she took the stand. Addressing Hendricks, and hinting at Najwa Petersen’s possible testimony, Von Lieres und Wilkau said: “Najwa agrees that she has known you for 30 years, but she will testify you borrowed R20000 from her twice, before you borrowed the final R10000. “She agrees that she is ‘serious about money’, and if you did not stick to your part of an agreement, then she would call you. That is her habit. She agrees that you asked her for money at the school (which both Hendricks’s and Petersen’s children attended), and that she agreed (to the loan) and told you to come get it at (her) home. After the first payment early in December, she gave you diamonds and told you if you sold them for R250000, you could get R10000. On the same occasion, she told you there were American dollars in the home, and if you were successful with the diamond transaction, she would leave them in your care to sell on the black market. The money would then help you get out of your financail predicament. On December 13, you called her to say that you had given the diamonds to a prospective buyer. More or less that time, she was calling you all the time, because you no longer had the diamonds in your possession, and she stood to lose R250000. She was stressed and anxious after you told her that you no longer had the diamonds, that is why she made so many calls.” Najwa Petersen will “categorically deny” taht she “invited” Hendricks to murder her husband, Von Lieres said. Meanwhile, Petersen’s previous lawyer has declined comment about whether his legal fees have been paid. Petersen’s first legal team, Norman Snitcher and advocate Craig Webster, SC, last week won a court order to compel Petersen to pay R125000 in legal fees. Her lawyer during her final bail applicaiton, John Riley, said yesterday that it would not be appropriate for him to discuss whether his own fees had been paid, but he was able to confirm that the fees of advocate Herbert Raubenheimer, SC, instructed by him, had been paid.