Final witness takes stand in Taliep murder trial

The final witness in the Taliep Petersen murder trial wound up his testimony on Thursday, and proceedings have been postponed to October 20 for closing arguments.

Judge Siraj Desai acknowledged that it was a long delay, but said the trial had been running for 39 court days, and counsel had a great deal of evidence to go through.

October 20 was the ”only logical and practical” date, he said.

The final witness was police ballistics expert Inspector Herman Dicks, recalled after giving evidence earlier this week.

During the earlier session, he had said he disagreed with Leon Wagner, a forensic expert called by Najwa Petersen’s legal team, that there was a ring of soot around the fatal bullet wound on Taliep’s neck.

He told the court then that on the basis of an examination of photos of the wound the blackening was simply an abrasion mark caused by the bullet.

On Thursday, questioned by Najwa’s advocate, Johann Engelbrecht, Dicks told the court he also disagreed with similar conclusions by the police ballistics expert who examined the body, and the doctor who performed the post-mortem examination.

Dicks said that if there was soot around the wound, there would also have to be burned or partly burned propellant tattooed into the surrounding skin.

There was none.

He also said it was evident that the gun had been fired from a position directly above Taliep’s head as he lay face-down on the floor, perhaps at an angle of about ten degrees.

One of the ”hit men”, Waheed Hassen, earlier told the court that Najwa pulled the trigger as he was holding the gun folded into an upholstery cushion, about two paces from Taliep’s head and to the right.

Dicks said that if soot had gone through a cushion, propellant, with its much heavier particles, would have as well.

Taliep, an internationally renowned musician and entertainer, was shot in the back of the neck at his Athlone, Cape Town, home on the night of December 16 2006.

The state claims Najwa hired her co-accused — Hassen, Jefferson Snyders and Abdoer Emjedi — as hit men to carry out the killing.

All are in custody. — Sapa

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Ben Maclennan
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