/ 24 April 2008

Taliep’s sister takes stand in Najwa murder trial

Taliep Petersen’s sister gave up on the 10111 emergency number on the night her brother was killed, driving to a police station instead to get help, the Cape High Court heard on Thursday.

Ma’atoema Groenmeyer told the court she believed her abortive 10111 call was the first attempt that anyone made to summon police.

She was testifying in the trial of Taliep’s widow, Najwa, and three others charged with murder.

Groenmeyer said she got a call from a weeping Najwa late on the night of December 16 2006 saying there had been a robbery and Taliep had been shot, and that Najwa did not know whether he was dead or alive.

Groenmeyer said she told Najwa she was going to phone the police, and called 10111.

”It rang for a minute. I got through but nobody answered,” she said.

She gave up and instead, still in her pyjamas, got into the car with her husband and drove to the Athlone police station.

There they encountered Constable Munaaz Lawrence, who radioed for the flying squad.

Five minutes later her husband, who was waiting outside the police station, said he had seen the flying squad go past.

”It was very quick. They were very sharp,” Groenmeyer said.

Cross-examined by Najwa’s advocate, Klaus von Lieres und Wilkau, Groenmeyer denied she told Lawrence she had heard a shot over the phone while Najwa was speaking to her. Von Lieres said Lawrence had made a statement to that effect, and that according to Lawrence, Groenmeyer also asked Najwa about the shot, but did not get an answer.

”I can only tell the truth because I am under oath and did not hear a shot,” Groenmeyer told the court.

Groenmeyer told the court that at the time of the killing, she and Najwa had a close and loving bond, and were ”like sisters”.

About two weeks after the killing, she asked Najwa what had happened on that night, and Najwa told her she was woken by Taliep, that there was a man with a gun at Taliep’s head and Taliep told her they were being robbed.

The man asked her where she kept the key to the safe.

Groenmeyer said Najwa told her she went with Taliep and the ”perpetrator” to the main bedroom, took a bag of money of the safe and gave it to the man.

Najwa had said there might have been two or three robbers.

”She said to the perpetrators, please take anything you want but do not hurt us.

”I said, what did Taliep say — she said Taliep did not say a word.”

Just before she was taken to another bedroom, Najwa had said, she embraced Taliep from behind, around the waist.

Najwa had said she saw Taliep being led to the television room and made to kneel. That was the last time she saw him alive. — Sapa