Reporter – Ella Smook
Najwa Petersen’s third advocate, Klaus von Lieres und Wilkau, has withdrawn from the high-profile Taliep Petersen murder trial because of a “shortage of funds”. Petersen’s defence was set to launch its case in the Cape High Court today, but Von Lieres und Wilkau indicated that his “mandate” had ended “last Friday”. Reaz Khan, Petersen’s attorney who has right of appearance in the High Court, asked for a postponement, but instead drew fire from Judge Siraj Desai. Judge Desai said he believed the withdrawal was a “tactical” move on the part of Petersen, who was “hoping that somehow the court would make an error”. The case has already been postponed several times to accommodate Petersen. Judge Desai said he would not allow the criminal justice system to be “held to ransom” because of the “whims of one accused”. “Your client has already had two sets of lawyers, and now the ghird half-set has been dismissed. The result is a severe prejudice… not just to the client, but also to many sitting here who have a direct interest in the developments (of this case), as well as the prosecution and the court. Under those circumstances, my further indulgence will be strecthing the kindness our criminal justice system affords the accused,” Judge Desai said. He asked Khan why he could not appear for Petersen, to which Khan replied that it was “not her choice”. “Mr Khan, take instructions from your client, I order you to continue,” Judge Desai commanded a stunned Khan twice, to clapping from the public gallery. After taking instruction from najwa Petersen, Khan turned around and told the court: “She insists she wants counsel to represent her, and I am not in a position to proceed today.” Instead of the requested postponement until Friday, Judge Desai postponed the case until tomorrow. Along with her co-accused Abdoer Rassiet Emjedi and Jefferson Snyders, Najwa Petersen has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, conspiracy to murder and other charges related to the December 16, 2006 slaying of her husband. Waheed Hassen has admitted complicity. The case continues.