/ 21 April 2008

Taliep accused sought deal with state, court hears

One of Taliep Petersen’s alleged murderers has told the Cape High Court he confessed to a role in the killing in the hope of getting ”help” from the authorities in other criminal cases he faced.

Waheed Hassen also told the court that he was assaulted by police and that he witnessed the beating of an armed-robbery suspect in police holding cells.

He took the stand on Monday on the second day of the trial within a trial, in which he is disputing the admissibility of statements he made to police.

Hassen said one of the group of about 20 policemen who took him into custody at his Belhar home in June last year handcuffed him, then trod on the cuffs as he was put into a double-cab bakkie.

”Inside the vehicle they said to me: You’re going to shit, you must talk,” he said.

The police in the bakkie put a black plastic bag over his head so he could not breathe, and hit him on the back and ribs.

Hassen said that over the next few days he was questioned about Taliep’s death, and when it appeared that investigators were trying to involve his wife, he said he would cooperate with them.

The coordinator of the investigation, Superintendent Godfrey Wagter, also promised that if he talked, the authorities could help with two outstanding cases against him — one of possession of perlemoen and the other of possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

It was for this reason that he made a sworn statement on June 20, admitting involvement in Taliep’s death.

After making the statement, he was taken down to holding cells where he saw police assaulting a man who had been arrested for armed robbery.

The man’s arms were cuffed behind his back, and the police jammed a tyre over his bent-over body so that his buttocks protruded behind, and hit him.

Hassen said he thought it was only coincidence that he witnessed the assault, and that he was not supposed to see it.

Earlier on Monday, Wagter took the stand and denied that he made Hassen any promises.

The court also watched a police video showing Hassen being questioned by Superintendent Deon Spangenberg, commander of the police’s Khayelitsha detective branch, preparatory to making the June 20 statement.

During the video Hassen, wearing a black leather jacket, appeared relaxed, at one stage unwrapping and eating what appeared to be a sweet, at another joking when Spangenberg gave him his police ID to inspect: ”Meneer looks a bit young in the photo.”

Asked by Spangenberg how he acquired knowledge of the incident he was about to make a statement on, Hassen said: ”I was involved in a crime that made me realise afterwards that I had only been misused.”

And when Spangenberg wrote that down, he asked the detective to add that he expressed remorse for the murder.

”Were you assaulted, threatened or influenced by anyone to make a statement?” asked Spangenberg.

”No,” replied Hassen.

Hassen showed Spangenberg an abrasion on his left wrist, left by handcuffs, but added: ”It’s nothing.”

Spangenberg, who was also called as a witness, told the court that at no stage did he get the impression Hassen did not want to make the statement, or that he was influenced or threatened to do so.

Hassen, Petersen’s wife, Najwa, Abdoer Emjedi and Jefferson Snyders have all pleaded not guilty to the December 2006 execution-style killing.

The hearing continues on Tuesday. — Sapa