Najwa sentencing gets under way

Najwa Petersen was among the top 3% of earners in South Africa when she killed her husband, Taliep, the Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

Forensic criminologist Irma Labuschagne testified that Najwa told her in a prison interview that she had had an income of R100 000 a month.

”That would put her in the top 3% in this country,” remarked Judge Siraj Desai.

”You are comfortably off,” replied Labuschagne.

”She would fall among the highest earners in this country,” said Desai.

”She was,” said the criminologist.

Labuschagne was presenting an evaluation commissioned by Najwa’s defence team for sentencing purposes.

According to her written report, Najwa told her Taliep, an internationally renowned entertainer, had no business sense and had lost ”millions” in money-making schemes.

One deal that had gone badly wrong was a pyramid scheme.

”Taliep would believe anything,” Najwa had told Labuschagne.

”If they said to him, you can make money like this, give me two million and I will make you eight million, he did it.”

Labuschagne said many of Taliep’s friends and business associates had confirmed to her that Taliep had no financial acumen.

She said Najwa, who at the time of the murder was a director of the family company Dirk Fruit and a ”lead provider” for a concern named Safin, had reportedly been the one in the family who held the purse strings.

”Some of her friends said she never got recognition for the fact that she kept the show going with her money,” she told the court.

Taliep was not a pauper, but Najwa supported many of his ventures from her own pocket.

She claimed in the interview, as she has done before, that Fahiem Hendricks was behind the December 2006 killing of Taliep, and that he framed her.

Hendricks was a state witness in the case.

”Najwa insists, despite the findings of the court, that she is innocent of the crimes she has been found guilty of,” Labuschagne said.

However, Najwa did believe she was indirectly responsible for the death last year of her father, killed in a car crash when he had a heart attack, because of the stress her arrest caused him.

Najwa and two hit men were last year found guilty of killing Taliep in the couple’s Cape Town home in December 2006.

One of the hit men, Waheed Hassen, said a prayer in the witness box on Wednesday, his eyes closed and hands held out in front of him, before asking members of the Petersen family who were in the public gallery for maaf, the Arabic word for forgiveness.

”I did not have the right to do what I did and break the bond between you,” he told Taliep’s father, Mogamat.

Mogamat said after the hearing that he accepted the apology.

”I’m quite happy with what’s happening,” he said. ”It’s decency at last.”

Said Taliep’s brother, Igsaan: ”Who are we not to pardon when God pardons you?”

Sentencing procedures continue on Thursday. Sentence is expected to be handed down next week. — Sapa

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Ben Maclennan
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