Reporter: Ella Smook
MUSICIAN’S DAUGHTER SAYS HE WOULD NOT LAY A CHARGE AGAINST NAJWA
Slain music icon Taliep Petersen covered up for his wife – now standing trial for his murder – after Najwa stabbed him in the neck while he was sleeping, eight months before a successful attempt on his life, his daughter Jawaahier has told the Cape High Court. She said Petersen, bleeding profusely from the wound after the april 13, 2006 incident, had given the knife to a domestic worker to wash and had put on a dark sweater to hide his blood-soaked white shirt, before he was rushed to hospital. Once at the hospital, Petersen would not hear of informing the police, and his family obeyed his wishes. This was Jawaahier’s testimony in the Cape High court yesterday, while the public gallery hissed as Najwa petersen’s advocate, Klaus von Lieres und Wilkau, said there was a witness who had made a statement to police, saying the stabbing had been an accident. According to his unidentified witness, Taliep’s birthday was coming up and Najwa had been cutting a cake, when “she got a fit. He tried to restrain her and then she stabbed him in the neck”. This version of the incedent, that Taliep had made clear he wanted to “keep hush-hush”, differed dramatically from the version presented by Jawaahier. Dispassionately referring to Najwa as “his wife”, Jawaahier said her stepmother was “as right as rain” when se went to the couple’s bedroom to say good night at about 11pm on the night of the stabbing. About 30 minutes later, her younger sister banged on her bedroom door, saying: “Tietie, Tietie, Daddy’s calling you but he doesn’t sound right!” Jawaahier rushed to the Petersen couple’s bedroom, put her ear to the door, and heard: “Najwa, no! Najwa, no!” After some hesitation, she entered the room, illuminated only by faint blue light from a small television. “Daddy, where are you?” she called, to which Taliep replied: “Put on the light, but don’t freak out.” Blood everywhere – on the blankets, the sheets, the blinds, the phone,” said Jawaaihier. “I stepped around the bed, and there she was, kneeling down in a prayer posture, her pink pajamas soaked in blood.” Taliep was behind Najwa, who looked like she was trying to stab Taliep again over her shoulder. He was holding her arm, with the knife pointed towards him. Jawaahier did not yet know where the blood was coming from, as “they were both covered in blood”. But she noticed that Najwa’s “eyes were demonic” and she was “making a sound like someone possessed”. “She looked like a zombie,” Jawaahier said under cross-examination. However, she refused to pin Najwa’s appearance to “anything specific”, such as medication. “I can pull my face like that as well if I want to,” she said. Jawaahier said she had witnessed Najwa having a seizure, about four days before the stabbing, when her sister Fatima was fetched from the hospital after a tonsil operation. On returning from the hospital, she had seen Najwa having a seizure that lasted from the car in the driveway all the way up into the bedroom. “I wasn’t clear about her exact illness. I am not sure he (Taliep) was either,” Jawaahier said. Earlier yesterday, Taliep’s sister, Taghmeeda Johnson, testified that an encounter at the hospital between the Petersen couple and Taliep’s first wife, Madeegha Anders, had set in motion a chain of events that caused the situation in the Petersen house to go from bad to “unbearable”. Jawaahier and Fatima are children born from Taliep’s marraige to Anders, but had been living with the Petersens. Johnson said Taliep had been lamenting the fate of his children, who were faced with the same broken-home circumstances in which he and Johnson had grown up. “It is the same scenario, just the characters have changed,” Taliep reportedly told his sister. The last four years of his marriage had been “horrible”, she said, but in April 2006, just before his birthday, he had told her that his marriage was not working out, his children were not happy and he was thinking of buying a house for himself and his children. A day after encountering Taliep’s first wife at the hospital, “Najwa freaked out”, because the recovering Fatima went to stay with Anders. The next day Najwa was hospitalised for depression, to return home on April 13. That night, Taliep dozed off after asking Najwa if she had taken her tablets, and she said yes. Moments later, his wife would stab him in the neck. “If I can’t have you, then nobody else will,” Najwa allegedly said, according to Johnson. But Petersen’s defence pointed out while Taliep allegedly repeatedly professed to wanting out of his marriage, he had never taken any steps to get a divorce, and had in fact married Najwa twice – once in a civil ceremony and once in a Muslim ceremony. Najwa Petersen, through her advocate, admitted yesterday to the stabbing, but said that she did not know how it happened. The trial continues.