Murder accused ‘saved victim from drowning’

LAWYER TELLS COURT RAMEEZ THOMAS SHOULD BE CHARGED WITH MANSLAUGHTER

Weekend Argus

Reporter – Bianca Capazorio

RAMEEZ Thomas, the Manenberg teenager accused of murdering three-year-old Faeez Wesso last week, saved the boy’s life just a month prior to his death. That was what the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court heard yearderday from Thomas’s attorney Ben Matthewson, who told how his client saved Faeez from drowning. He added that although he had not seen it, Faaez’s mother Mesca Wesso had apparently given an interview to e.tv last week indicating that the death of her son had been an accident. Matthewson said if this was the case, his client should be charged with manslaughter, and not murder. Thomas, 18, from Rhone Walk in Manenberg, faces four charges including murder, illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, and pointing a firearm. He appeared in court yesterday dressed in a maroon and yellow Nike top and a white beanie. It was his second court appearance. Thomas allegedly got into an argument with Mesca Wesso last week after a police raid looking for guns and ammunition. He believed she was the one who had tipped off police. He had pointed the gun at her while they were arguing, and then pointed it at Faeez. The gun went off, and the boy died later that day as a result of his injuries. Matthewson was arguing for his client’s right to a bail hearing after the Sate indicated it would oppose bail. Given the statements by Faeez’s mother, he said, the fact that Thomas voluntarily handed himself over to police, and that the victim and the accused’s families were still close, the Staet should find the first available date for a bail application. State prosecutor Keppler Uys said they would oppose bail, given the seriousness of the offence, and Thomas’s links to Hard Livings gang activity. While they would investigate Matthewson’s claims, Faeez’s mother had “painted a totally different picture” of the accused, Uys added. Magistrate Marietjie van Eeden postponed the case to next Friday for a bail application. Thomas will remain in custody. As he was led away, Thomas turned to the packed court and waved and smiled a toothless smile at his mother Rowayda, who last week cried loudly and nearly collapsed after her son’s appearance. She told reporters at his last court appearance that the shooting had been an accident, and that her son was a “good” boy, and she did not know that he was involved with gangs. This week she remained calm, leaving the courtroom quietly, and later consulting with Matthewson after her son’s appearance.

Alleged Dixie Boys acquitted of girl’s murder

Cape Times

Reporter: Karen Breytenbach

TWO alleged gang members from Eerste River have been acquitted by a Western Cape High Court Judge of murdering a teenage girl who accused one of them of raping her. Judge Elizabeth Baartman found that the State had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that alleged Dixie Boys gang boss Garron “Slams” Potts and his friend Dhevenity “Debill” Mitchell were involved in the April, 2005, murder of Es-Louis Linnert. Both men were out on bail. She was allegedly raped by Potts at the age of 14, and shot deat at 16 before she could testify against him. As argued by attorney Ben Mathewson, for Mitchell, and Johann Engelbrecht SC, for Potts, the judge found that the State relied on two unreliable witnesses whose testimony remained uncorroborated. Evelyn Linnert’s identification of Mitchell as the man who shot her in the neck and shot dead her niece as they walked across a field had to be treated with caution, as she was the only eyewitness. She only got a look at the shooter for three seconds as she tried to push him away, and visibility was not good, because it was dark. She said it had been a full-moon evening, but the defence showed it would have been a sickle moon according to the moon calendar. She also got the time wrong and no-one corroborated her identification. The court therefore could not rely on her identification. The court also rejected the testimony of Jeswaine Williams, a man who claimed to have been in Potts’s inner circle. He claimed to have over-heard Potts saying he wanted Linnert killed because he did not want to spend more money in trying to squash the rape complaint. Judge Baartman found that Williams was a heavy tik user at the time, although he claimed to have quit since spending three years in witness protection. He contradicted himself often, and his testimony about an alleged conspiracy between Potts and his friends to have Linnert killed was “insufficient and extremely poor”. The court could not rely on his evidence. Although the State had many other witnesses who might have been able to corroborate Williams, they were not called. Linnert had also accused three other men of rape, so it was not possible to say that Potts was the only person with a motive to kill her. Other evidence presented also did not offer any proof beyond resonable doubt of the men’s guilt. The public gallery filled up as the judgment came to an end, with Calvyn Marinus and some of his co-accused in an organised crime trial next door taking up some seats. Mitchell and Potts had wide-eyed expressions as Baartman acquitted them and greanted Williams, who was a Section 204 witness, immunity from prosecution for incriminating himself of drug dealing during his testimony. Mitchell and Potts were greeted outside by a group of friends, who joined them and Mathewson at a coffee shop.

Najwa accuses her trial judge of bias

Cape Argus

Reporter:  Fatima Schroeder

163-PAGE AFFIDAVIT AIMS TO OVERTURN CONVICTION

NAJWA PETERSEN, who is serving 28 years behind bars for orchestrating the murder of her music icon husband, Taliep Petersen, says she did not receive a fair trial. She claims Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai was biased and pressured witnesses into saying what he wanted them to say. She also alleges he was impatient and followed “irregular” procudure. “The conduct of the honourable judge created the perception that he was biased in his approach to the evidence during the trial and his assessment of the evidence in his judgment,” she claimed. She made the allegations in an affidavit her lawyers filed yesterday at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein in a bid for leave to appeal against her convictions for murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances. Her petition to the Appeal Court was also served on the local offices of the National Prosecuting Authority today. While Petersen is serving her 28-year sentence i a woman’s prison in Breede River, the hitman, Waheed Hassen, is serving an effective 25 years in jail. Fahiem Hendricks, who had arranged the murder on Petersen’s behalf, turned State witness and was granted immunity from prosecution. Abdoer Raasiet Emjedi – the man who recommended Hassen as a hitman – was sentenced to a 24 years in prison. Petersen’s petition follows Judge Desai’s refusal earlier this month to grant her leave to appeal against her conviction for the December 2006 murder. Judge Desai ruled that there was no prospect of another court coming to a different conclusion. But Petersen, determined to have her conviction overturned, did not stop there. She has sworn to a 163-page affidavit detailing why she believes that Judge Desai’s findings were not correct. Twenty-three pages of her affidavit comprised extracts form the record of the trail, including:

– Judge Desai questioning the first State witness, Riefaat Soeker, who lived in a flat on the Petersens’ premises. He asked the witness: “So your inference that they had a loving relationship is based on a few moments that you saw them on a good footing in that period of nine months?”

– Judge Desai questioning Petersen’s decision to call Taliep’s sister, Ma’atoema Groenmeyer, before the police. “Why did you not call the police? Because if I remember your evidence, there was a robbery in progress,” he said.

– Judge Desai questioning State witness Munaaz Lawrence, who was on duty at the Athlone police station when Groenmeyer arrived there to report the incident. Lawrence testified taht Groenmeyer told her she had heard the gunshot while she was on the phone with Najwa. “Could you be mistaken as to what she said?” Judge Desai asked Lawrence. Lawrence responded that it was possible that she had made a mistake because Groenemeyer spoke fast and she was emotional.

– Judge Desai questioning why Petersen regularly claimed her husband was present when she made calls to Hendricks. Judge Desai asked: “Why do you specifically remember that on five occasions, the deceased was present when you made the calls? I think that is what the prosecutor is trying to get from you. Is there any reason?”

– Judge Desaid questioning her about her supposed “loans” to Hendricks – “a relative stranger”. “Why did you want to help him to such a large extent that you gave him R10000 and then R250000 in diamonds? You displayed a high degree of generosity towards him. What explanation is there for this?”

– He also doubted Petersen’s testimony that she was asleep on the night of the incident and that one of the intruders woke her to demand money. “Instead of waking you up, why did the robbers not ask the deceased where the money was and run away with the money? He would have een perfectly capable of pointing out where the money was and giving the money to them.” Petersen testified that the intruders must have killed her husband because he saw their faces. To this Judge Desai responded: “So you’re speculating on that.”

– Hassen telling the court that Petersen had pulled the trigger herself and that he had folded a pillow around the gun to muffle the sound of the gunshot. Judge Desai referring to photographs of the crime scene and putting it to Petersen “Now tell me, on at least two photographs you see the cover of a cushion. There must have been a cushion (inside the slip) but the police on the scene didn’t find the cushion.” She responded that she did not know what had happened to the cushion or if anyone had interfered with the scene of the murder. Petersen’s previous counsel, Klaus von Lieres und Wilkau SC, cross-examined investigating officer Joash Dryden and put it to Dryden that someone would have seen a cushion at the crime scene if it had been there. Before Dryden answered, Judge Desai added: “Unless it was hidden away somewhere.” In her affidavit, Petersen submitted that she had reasonable prospects of success on appeal and asked for permission to appeal against the decision.

‘Najwa should suffer same fate’

CAPE TIMES

Reporter: Karen Breytenbach

While some close relatives of slain music icon Taliep Petersen were satisfied with the 28-year jail term meted out to his widow Najwa for his contract killing, Petersen’s daughter, Jawaahier, said his children would only be satisfied if their stepmother was made to suffer the same cruel fate as their father. “The Qur’an says an eye for an eye, so unless she was tied down, made to beg for her life and still shot like an animal, I’d never be satisfied,” she said. The young television presenter said no amount of jail time would bring her father back, so her stemmother “could’ve been given a holiday in Jamaica for all I’m concerned”. Petersen’s sister, Maatoema Groenmeyer, said she felt the sentencing was failr. “We are thankful to God that He has spared our father (Mogamat Ladien petersen) long enough to see that justice was done,” Groenmeyer said. “We went through two years of searing pain. It was an emotional rollercoaster. We’re relieved it’s over.” Groenmeyer said the court still needed to decide in whose care to lace her niece, the Petersens’ nine-year-old daughter Zainub, but if the child was to stay with her, she would give her a stable and loving home. Mogamat Ladien petersen, who was swamped by well-wishers, said he was glad the case was over and was “quite satisfied” with the outcome. The Petersen family reacted to Judge Siraj Desai’s sentencing as hundreds of supporters and dozens of photographers and journalists descended on them outside the Cape High Court yesterday. Najwa Petersen’s children did not wish to make any public statements. A large crowd remained standing in the street for another two hours, waiting for the vans in which Petersen and her three co-accused were being transported to leave the police compound at the court. As the large wooden gates opened and two vans with sirens blaring sped out, the crowd screamed wildly and hammered on the windows with their fists. Addressing the packed and restless public gallery, Desai sentenced Najwa Petersen to concurrent sentences of 28 years for murder and 10 for robbery with aggravating circumstances, and co-accused Abdoer Raasiet Emjedi to concurrent sentences of 24 years for murder and 10 for robbery. Waheed Hassen was handed 24 years for murder, 10 for robbery and three for the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. Two of the three years are to run concurrently with the 24 and 10 years, bring his term to 25 years.  Jefferson Snyders, who was convicted only of robbery, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, three of them suspended for five years. Although Petersen’s status was not held as an aggravating factor in sentencing, Desai noted that his murder was the abrupt end of the life of “one of Cape Town and the music world’s favourite sons”. Petersen was “at the height of his career” and “a devoted son and a much-loved father”. It was shocking that Petersen had been killed in such a “callous” manner, tied up and humiliated, by a wife he prayed for each night, Desai said. He took into account that Najwa Petersen was 46, a first offender and the mother of a minor child. He also considered the submission by forensic criminologist Irma Labuschagne that Petersen may have become emotionally blunted from years on prescription psychiatric medication. Desai, however, pointed out that there was no clear evidence about Petersen’s mental health and that information on this question presented at Petersen’s bail hearings was “contradictory”. He agreed with the prosecution that she had flasely painted herself as emotionally unstable and vulnerable. She had “pestered” Fahiem Hendricks, the organiser of the hit who turned state witness and “played an active role on the scene”. Emjedi, 42, was a first offender, and had been in custody for 20 months. Although he was not at the crime scene, he had “played a vital role” in the planning. Not showing remorse counted against him, said Desai. Hassen, 36, was also in custody for 20 months and had been convicted before, more than 10 years ago. Desai said Hassen had “displayed some moral integrity” by “readily conceding” his guilt and “profusely apologising” to his victim’s family. This would not allow him to escape a harsh sentence, however. Snyders, 33, had only a previous conviction of drunk driving, and was a family man who came from a good family. But, Desai said, Hassen and Snyders could have avoided becoming involved. Each of the four is to be eligible for parole after serving two thirds of their sentence. In a statement, the Director of Public Prosecutions congratulated Captains Joe Dryden and Jonathan Morris and Superintendent Godfrey Wagter of the Police’s Organised Crime Unit and prosecutors Shireen Riley and Susan Galloway for their “excellent work” and “dedication”.

Man ‘showed police where to find body’

Cape Argus

Reporter: Fouzia van der Fort

A Chinese man’s lawyer argued in court that his client should be given bail because he had helped police with the investigation into the murder of the son of an alleged member of a Taiwanese triad. Zhang Haoxuan’s attorney Joshua Greeff, presenting his closing argument during his bail application in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court yesterday, said Zhang had told police where to find the body of Wending Jason Zhu and where he had been murdered. “The evidence the State has was volunteered by my client… why would he do that?” asked Greeff. During previous appearances the court heard that Zhang had implicated himself in the murder. Zhang and his co-accused Li Zhen Cheng, 37, have been in custody since their arrest on March 29. The State is opposing bail as the two may be flight risks. Zhang’s girlfriend Gui Mei Tang, 30, was released on R5000 bail on May 13, while charges were dropped against Jingbin Qui, 31, on August 5. The three face charges of murder, kidnapping and extortion. Greeff and Zhang had similar circumstances to Gui and should be released on bail. They are accused of killing Wending and demanding a ransom of R2.5 million. It is alleged he was suffocated in a brothel in Rondebosch East. Wending’s father, Maple Zhu, owns a legal abalone farm in Hermanus and was called hours after his son’s disappearance. Zhang had driven with police to Riversdale close to Mossel Bay where they found Wending’s decomposing body in a shallow grave 10 days after he disappeared on March 18. Li’s attorney Andre Kirsten also took the State to task for not having a strong case against the accused. He said there was no reason to oppose bail. State prosecutor Goodman Jaxa still has to present closing arguments. Magistrate Jasthree Steyn remanded the accused, told all parties to be ready for judgment and postponed the case to Tuesday.

Najwa gets a grilling

Reporter: Fatima Schroeder

CAPE ARGUS

PETERSEN DENIES THAT TALIEP HEADBUTTED HER AS SHE TRIED TO HUM HIM

Najwa Petersen denied in the Cape High Court today that her husband Taliep had hed-butted her away when she tried to embrace him on the night of his murder. She also denied taht she had watched as an attacker kicked him to the floor and assaulted him before he was shot dead. In another eventful morning, it was put to Petersen that moments before her husband was killed, she had said to the hitmen: “Don’t do it (the murder) upstairs. Do it downstairs.” She was being cross-examined by defence counsel Patrick Scott, who represents one of the self-confessed intruders, Waheed Hassan. Scott put Hassan’s version of events on the night of the killing to Petersen and asked her to comment. But she rejected the allegations. She said she had hugged her husband at one stage but denied that he had head-butted her. She also denied that she had seen him being assaulted. She said that she had seen blood on his face but didn’t know what caused him to start bleeding. The details of the murder just seemed too much for Taliep’s sister, Taghmeeda Johnson, who collapsed in the public gallery as she tried to leave the courtroom. Some of her relatives left to check on her and then took her home. The court heard that Najwa had spoken to the hitmen in Afrikaans. Hassan said he had peered into the bag of money Najwa had given him and commented: “This is not what Fahiem and I discussed.” Petersen allegedly responded: “Don’t worry, we will sort it out tomorrow.” Earlier in the trial, Hassan testified that Hendricks had asked him to carry out the attack according to Petersen’s instructions and that she would pay R100000 for it. He said he was in regular telephonic contact with Hendricks and he had been told that the front door would be left unlocked so that he could enter the premises. He was told to look for Taliep in the studio. Scott put in to Petersen that Taliep was in the TV room and that he started to invoke Allah’s name when he saw his attackers. Petersen said she did not hear any of this and that she was asleep in her bedroom. She woke up when one of the intruders pressed a gun to her head and demanded money. Petersen told the court yesterday that she had no part in the attack and that she begged the men not to hurt her husband. But Hassan testified earlier that Petersen had helped the attackers to tie up her husband. He said she had “nagged” and persisted that her husband should be killed that night. Petersen, Hassan and the other co-accused, Abdoer Raasiet Emjedi and Jefferson Snyders, have pleaded not guilty to murder and to robbery with aggravating circumstances, as well as to the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition. The State alleges Petersen asked Hendricks to recruit hitmen to kill her husband, offering to pay them R100000. Hendricks, who has turned State witness, says he approached Emjedi, who allegedly recommended Hassan and Snyders to carry out the killing. Yesterday Najwa denied having written a cash cheque for R100000 three days after the murder to pay Fahiem Hendricks for the hit. The cheque, Petersen said before Justice Siraj Desai yesterday, was for her late father, Sulaiman Dirk, who had bought and sold cars. She also said her numerous cellphone calls to Hendricks were about a R240000 payment for polished diamonds she had given him to sell on her behalf. Her testimony continues.

Dagga Dylan set free

Daily Voice

Reporter: Warda Salvester

BABY Jordan’s uncle yesterday got a slap on the wrist after being bust with dagga. Dylan Norton, 19, wa arrested fro possession of drugs on December 16. He spent a night in the cells at Cape Town Police Station after cops found the weed in his car. Yesterday, the teenager arrived at court looking very nervous. Minutes later he breathed a sigh of relief after a deal was struck with prosecutors and the charge against him was withdrawn. His lawyer Reaz Khan says Dylan will be required to do community service. “I cannot at this point say what his punishmet would entail,” he adds. “Dylan has to contact NICRO before Friday to find out what form of community service he will be required to do.” Dylan was accompanied by his dad Vernon Norton in court. And they upheld the Norton family tradition of dressing smartly. Both wore striped shirts – Vernon chose candy-pink stripes and Dylan decided on green stripes. Dylan and his family have been through a trying time after the brutal murder of sister Natasha’s six-month-old baby Jordan-Leigh in June 2005. Dina Rodrigues, an ex-girlfriend of the baby’s father Neil Wilson, has been charged with the murder. Prosecutors say Dina, 25, hired four men to kill the blue-eyed baby. Dylan found Baby Jordan bleeding to death under a pillow.

Cop killing: man out on bail

News24 – SAPA

Cape Town – A reveller who was refused bail in January after his arrest for the alleged kidnapping, robbery and murder of a retired traffic officer was finally released on bail on Wesnesday – on “new facts”. Justin Shane Norton, 21, was granted bail of R2000 after launching a renewed bail application in the Cape Town regional court before magistrate Piet Nel. In the first week of January, he and four alleged accomplices were arrested for the murder of retired traffic officer Brian George Bland, whose body had been dumped at the entrance to the Portuguese Club in Milnerton. It is allged the five had been on a drinking spree at the time they kidnapped Bland at a supermarket in Milnerton. They go on trial in the Cape High Court on October 10 next year. After the first bail hearing, co-accused Bryan Snyman, 19, took his plight to the Cape High Court, who overruled the bail court’s ruling that there were no exceptional and compelling circumstances to justify his release on bail.

‘Exceptional circumstances’

Nel agreed with defence attorney Keith Gess that Norton’s position should be “no more, no less favourable” than Snyman’s. Nel agreed also that the new facts – the appalling conditions in Pollsmoor Prison, and the fact that Norton had become a father – were exceptional circumstances. He said it was highly undesirable that Norton, as a father, should be detained until the start of the trial, taking into account he already had spent 10 months in custody. Nel said the information now placed before the court indicated an insubstantial case against Norton, and it was likely he would be acquitted. Those still in custody are Arthur Lancaster, 22, his brother Wesley, 20, and Snyman’s brother, Morne, 29.

Sasha: crowd packs gallery

Cape Town – An angry crowd bayed for the blood of the man who appeared in Wynberg magistrate’s court in Cape Town on Thursday in connection with the murder of eight-year-old Sasha-Leigh Crook. It was the second appearance in court by Moegamat Isaacs, 25. He was not asked to plead and the case was postponed to August 4. The courtroom was packed and angry supporters of the dead girl’s family shouted threats and obscenities at the back gates of the court after the brief hearing. Isaacs appeared before Magistrate Wessel Marais. Defence attorney Keith Gess told the court he needed to approach the state for information before deciding the next step. He did not elaborate on the information he wanted. Gess said there had been a problem on Wednesday because Isaac’s had refused blood and hair samples demanded by the state without first obtaining legal advice. Gess said Isaacs had since received legal advice and was now willing to give the required samples. It is understood that several attorneys have refused to represent Isaacs and that Gess was the only one willing to do so. The girl’s body was found by members of a neighbourhood watch search party on a field in Pelican Heights, near Strandfontein, on July 14. She vanished from her grandparents’ home in Ottery on July 6 while waiting to be taken to a party. She was found fully clothed and lying on her right side. The skin on parts of the left side of her face appeared to have been stripped away and it appeared she had a gash near her throat.