/ 18 April 2008

Controversial confession admitted in Najwa case

Taliep Petersen’s last recorded words, moments before his wife demanded repeatedly that he be shot, were ”God is great”, according to a confession by one of the men charged with his murder.

In a surprise move, the confession was admitted unopposed as evidence in the Cape High court on Friday.

In his confession, Jefferson Snyders said he could see in Petersen’s face that he knew he was going to die.

However, Snyders claimed he did not know who actually pulled the trigger.

Snyders’s advocate, Roelf Konstabel, told the court earlier this week that the state’s bid to hand in the confession would be opposed on the grounds that Snyders had been improperly influenced and that his rights were not fully explained.

But on Friday morning, as the court resumed for a trial within a trial, Konstabel told Judge Siraj Desai that his client no longer opposed the admission of the document.

In the two-page confession, made after his arrest in June last year, Snyders said he worked with Waheed Hassen, accused number three in the case.

On December 16 2006, Hassen told him: ”Man, we have a job to do.”

”I got into the bakkie and we drove. I did not ask what sort of job it was,” Snyders said.

They went to the Petersens’ Athlone home, where they found the front gate and front door open. Snyders followed Hassen, and when they got inside the house he saw a gun in Hassen’s hand.

They went up the stairs and saw Taliep lying back and watching television.

”He wanted to run, but he was stopped by me in front. I did not have any weapons in my hand. I instructed him to be quiet and told him we were only coming to do a robbery,” Snyders said.

At that point Taliep’s wife, Najwa, who is also on trial for murder, entered.

”I wanted to tie her up as well, but I gave her a smack,” Snyders said. ”Then I was told: ‘Not her — that is the person who gave the information about the house’.

”She and Waheed went to another part of the house. I did not see them again for a little while.

”While I was sitting with Taliep, I acknowledged him and I gave him my word that night that nothing would happen to him.

”But [with] the seriousness I saw in his face, and [the fact that] he began to pray — his words were ‘Allah al Akbar’ — I realised that he knows he is … going to die tonight, this is why he is making peace with his God and praying to God.

”Waheed and the wife came out of the room where they were. I felt so bad that night … I wanted to go down to the bakkie.

”Then I heard the wife say, half pleading, half hanging on to him: ‘He must be shot tonight’. She said repeatedly: ‘He must be shot’.

”Taliep lay there and looked at me as if I had gone back on my word to him.

”I went down the stairs and out of the door to the bakkie and ‘bam, boom’ I heard a shot. Waheed came out of the house. I started up the bakkie and drove.”

Snyders said he did not know who shot Taliep that night, and that he merely left Najwa and Hassen with him.

Since the killing, he and Hassen had never talked to each other about what happened, but the murder was constantly on his mind.

”I am today glad that I could clear my thoughts with the law, and I know that the prayers of many people who prayed to God [for] justice have been answered.”

Though Snyders’s confession has been admitted, Hassen, who also made a statement to police confessing to a role in the killing, is contesting his.

The court heard testimony on Friday from investigating officer Captain Joe Dryden, who denied that Hassen had been promised anything, or assaulted, before making the statement. — Sapa