State wraps up in Najwa trial

As the state wrapped up its case in the Najwa Petersen murder trial on Monday, Najwa’s advocate said no decision had been taken on whether she would testify in her own defence.

“I’ve still to consult with Mrs Petersen,” said senior counsel Klaus von Lieres und Wilkau. “We will make up our minds in the course of the coming week.”

Najwa has been charged together with three men she allegedly hired to carry out a hit on her entertainer husband, Taliep, on the night of December 16 2006.

Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai postponed the trial to May 20 after lead prosecutor Shareen Riley announced to the court on Monday morning that she did not intend to call any more witnesses.

The postponement, Desai said, was to allow defence teams to consider the formal statements made by people who were on the state’s witness list, but were not called.

It was reasonable, given the complexity of the case, that they be given time to consider whether they wanted to call these witnesses.

Desai also rejected an application by Roelf Konstabel, who is appearing for accused four, Jefferson Snyders, for his client’s discharge on the alternative to the main charge of murder, one of conspiracy to murder.

The judge said he would give reasons later.

The state has called 15 witnesses in the trial, including, on Monday, a geospatial analyst from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Peter Schmitz.

Schmitz explained a series of maps he had produced, with the Cape Flats overlaid by lines indicating cellphone calls made by key players in the trial.

His diagrams showed a total of 32 calls made on December 16 between Najwa, her other two co-accused, Abdoer Emjedi and Waheed Hassen, and state witness Fahiem Hendricks.

One diagram, mapping calls in space and time, showed how the four converged on the area of the Petersens’ house around the time of the murder.

Other witnesses have included Taliep’s business and creative partner, David Kramer, several of Taliep’s relatives, and a cellphone expert from Vodacom.

The most dramatic moment of the trial so far has been a trial within a trial, when Hassen unexpectedly declared that the contents of a 15-page statement he made for police were true, and that he wanted to change his plea to guilty.

In the statement, he said he was recruited by Emjedi, and that when he and Snyders went to the Petersen home, Najwa helped them tie up Taliep.

Hassen said though he brought a gun with him, it was Najwa who fired the fatal shot.—Sapa

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