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20 Feb 2009 07:47
A lawyer acting for jailed Najwa Petersen has denied that he acted unethically by relaying her responses to questions from a newspaper.
Shahied Schrueder was reacting to a statement by the Department of Correctional Services on Thursday that it intended to lay a complaint against him.
The Cape Argus on Monday published an article headlined “20 questions with Najwa”, saying the questions were sent “via her attorney, Shahied Schrueder, who is assisting her with decisions on the
future of her daughter, Zaynab”.
Petersen now lives in the Breede River women’s prison near Worcester, where she is serving a 28-year sentence for the murder of her husband, Taliep Petersen.
The department said in a statement that Schrueder had behaved unethically.
He had applied for a “legal visit”, which was granted in line with legislation that allowed every inmate to “consult on any legal matter with a legal practitioner”.
“However, it is clear from the media report that instead of consulting with the offender on a legal matter, the attorney facilitated a media enquiry,” the department said. This was intolerable, it said.
The department intended to report Schrueder to the law societies of South Africa and the Cape of Good Hope.
Schrueder said he denied that he acted unethically or that he facilitated a media interview.
“My client felt it necessary to respond to misrepresentations in the media regarding the welfare of her minor child Zaynab, and this was done through me,” he said.
“I have been consulting with her for some time, even when she was detained at Pollsmoor, regarding her child’s future, not just at Worcester.
“I deny interviewing her in jail on behalf of the Cape Argus or any other newspaper.”
He said he had in the wake of the department’s statement made contact with a senior correctional services official, and intended to send a formal written response on Friday to “clear up the matter professionally”.
The department had not contacted him before issuing the statement, he said.
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