Confusion over charges in Najwa trial

CAPE ARGUS

Reporter – Ella Smook

The long-awaited trial of Najwa Petersen and three co-accused, charged with the killing of her musician husband Taliep Petersen, began in the Cape High Court this morning with the defence arguing that the charges be revisited. Petersen, 45, of Athlone, stepped into the dock of Cape High Court 1 with Abdoer Raasiet Emjedi, 42, of Lansdowne, Waheed Hassen, 30, and Jefferson Snyders, 42, of Lentegeur. While the State was ready to proceed with the trial, Petersen’s advocate Klaus von Lieres und Wilkau said the defence did not have sufficient particulars about the charge of conspiracy to commit murder. Charges against the four include murder, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition and two counts of armed robbery. The State is alleging a conspiracy and a common purpose between the four accused to put into operation the plan to kill Petersen’s husband in December 2006. A bank of television and newspaper cameras greeted the four accused as they stepped into the dock and family and friends of Taliep Petersen watched the accused from the upstairs gallery. Najwa Petersen, who reportedly will be wearing a new outfit for every day of the trial, was dressed in a powder-blue suit and a printed blue scarf. Von Lieres und Wilkau asked the court to determine whether the contents of the charges were set out with sufficient particulars. “The accused does not know what case she has to answer,” he said. The defence had requested information about where, when and how the alleged conspiracy between the four accused came about. He said the answers received from the State that the conspiracy happened “implicitly”, “silently”, and by “implication” between the four accused, were “mutually exclusive”. Von Lieres said though Petersen’s defence had lodged two requests for further particulars of the charges, there was still no clarity on exactly who was alleged to have done what, and when. “An accused can’t be left to the mercy of speculation to prepare his defence,” Von Lieres told Judge Siraj Desai. “Making the dossier available does not absolve the State of the responsibility to properly supply particulars.” The State was sowing confusion by maintaining it relied on possible evidence that could emerge during the case. “Must (an accused) use a crystal ball if its not clear? It can’t work like that.” Von Lieres und Wilkau also asked Judge Desai to clarify court procedures about cameras inside the court saying that the four accused had been besieged by press cameras. Judge Desai said he may reconsider the situation but that for now cameras would be allowed prior to the start of proceedings. It is the State’s case that Petersen approached Fahiem Hendricks, a State witness, to arrange hitmen to carry out the murder. Petersen’s advocate, a former attorney-general, is received instructions from Reaz Khan. Snyders is represented by advocate Roelf Konstable, Emjedi by Laureen Abrahams and Hassen by Petrick Scott. The trial was postponed to Wednesday.