/ 5 May 2008

Taliep’s daughter takes stand in Najwa trial

The Cape High Court on Monday heard a graphic account of how Najwa Petersen stabbed her husband, Taliep, in the neck one night, eight months before he was murdered.

It also heard that the theatre personality’s life was insured for R5,3-million, and that Najwa tried after his death to have the money paid into a Namibian bank account.

Najwa and three men she allegedly hired to kill Taliep in December 2006 have pleaded not guilty to murder, robbery and firearms charges.

One of Taliep’s four daughters from a previous marriage, Jawaahier, told the court that on the night of April 13 2006 she was in her room at the Petersens’ Athlone home when her youngest sister, Fatima, entered.

Fatima said Taliep was calling her and that ”it doesn’t sound right”.

She went to the bedroom that Taliep and Najwa shared, and listened at the closed door.

”I just heard: ‘Najwa, no, Najwa, no’,” she said.

When she opened the door she saw by the light of one of the two television sets in the room that the bed’s blankets were on the floor, but she could not see Taliep or Najwa.

When she switched on the light, all she could see was blood, on the sheets, on the blankets and even on the window blinds.

Najwa was kneeling on the floor, holding a knife pointed back over one shoulder at Taliep, who was standing behind her and gripping the knife hand.

”They were both covered in blood,” Jawaahier said.

Najwa’s eyes were droopy, as if she had taken her psychiatric medication, she was making a throaty sound and she looked ”somewhat demonic”.

Taliep took the knife from Najwa, gave it to the family’s live-in domestic worker, who had also come into the bedroom, and told her to wash it.

Jawaahier said Taliep held dishcloths to his neck, and they became soaked with blood within seconds. His face was pale.

She phoned for an ambulance, and Taliep and Najwa were taken to the nearby Gatesville Medical Centre.

Though Taliep was discharged the next day, Najwa was transferred to a psychiatric clinic, where she stayed for three weeks.

Jawaahier said Taliep had not wanted to ”make a big deal” out of the incident, partly out of concern for his public image.

After Najwa’s discharge, Jawaahier moved out of the Petersen home to stay with her mother.

Following the incident, she did not like having Najwa even walking behind her, and when making coffee would stand sideways to Najwa to keep her in her peripheral vision.

Jawaahier said Najwa’s demeanour in the bloody bedroom had been a ”total change” from what she was like about 30 minutes earlier, when Jawaahier went into the bedroom and spoke to her about Taliep’s birthday.

Then she had been ”right as rain”, with no sign that she was on medication.

Najwa’s advocate, Klaus von Lieres, told the court earlier that she admitted to stabbing Taliep, but had no recollection of the events surrounding the incident.

A captain in the police’s organised-crime unit, Wayne van Tonder, told the court that he investigated Taliep’s financial background after his death, and discovered he had taken out a R5,3-million life-insurance policy.

The beneficiary was his daughter by Najwa.

Van Tonder said as far as he knew, the policy had not been paid out, but that Najwa had wanted it paid into a bank account she operated in Namibia. — Sapa