Anger as accused is allowed in Estcourt

2008-03-27 00:00

Estcourt mother Sarah Sathar, who was shot at 11 times by a gunman who fired on the car in which she and her young daughter were travelling on the N3 on May 17 last year, killing their driver, is distressed that the man charged with the shooting, Azeem Yunus Mahomed, has been allowed to return home to Estcourt pending his trial.

Sathar was shot en route to the prison in Pietermaritzburg to visit her son, Mohamed Shuaib Sathar, who is on trial for the murder of Azeem Mahomed’s sister, Safia Mahomed. Tensions have run high between the two families since the murder.

The high court on Tuesday agreed to alter Mahomed’s bail conditions and allow him to return to Estcourt to stay with his family for medical reasons, after a recent heart attack.

The court also granted a postponement of the murder trial to October 27 because of Mahomed’s health.

Sarah Sathar and Premikaa Ramsarup, widow of the slain driver, told The Witness they feel threatened by Mahomed’s presence in the small town.

Sathar said the accused lives “two houses” away from her.

She said her eight-year-old daughter, who survived the shooting, was so traumatised afterwards that she went to live with family in Port Elizabeth. Currently, the child is on holiday and staying with her parents.

Ramsarup said her husband, Vinod, never had the chance to see his baby Ayuish, who was born after the death of his father on September 9.

“I am receiving counselling to deal with my husband’s death … Now I have to be afraid because his [alleged] killer is in town and I could bump into him.

“We don’t know who to turn to. How can they [the state] allow this to happen? Who is going to protect us?” asked Sathar.

Sathar, her husband and Ramsarup yesterday went to see the Director of Public Prosecutions to complain about the decision to allow Mahomed to move back to Estcourt.

State advocate Sandesh Sankar, who is in charge of the prosecution, later told The Witness he agreed not to oppose the defence application based on information — which he accepted in good faith — that Sathar had “relocated” to Port Elizabeth. He was also shown doctor’s reports and certificates indicating that the accused suffers from a severe heart condition.

Sankar said he was given to understand that Mahomed is “almost bedridden” and would not pose a threat to anyone.

However, if there is evidence to the contrary, he might reconsider the matter, he said.

It is possible for the state to return to court and ask for the bail conditions to be changed again.

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