Court: Woman whom Vather met in jail denies his claims

2008-04-18 00:00

Local businesswoman and convicted murderer Yasmin Shaik has denied a suggestion by alleged wife killer Nico Vather that she was a guest of his wife, Valentia, the night she was killed at their Prestbury cottage on November 2, 2005.

She also denied an allegation put to her in the high court yesterday that she once told Vather that when her late husband drowned it was because she, Shaik, “drugged his drink”.

Valentia Vather (38) was found stabbed to death in the Brookby Crescent cottage she shared with Vather on the morning of November 3, 2005.

Vather said in a statement in which he pleaded not guilty to the murder that he left his wife with Shaik and his son at about 7.50 pm that night and that she was “well” at the time.

However, Shaik testified that she was with her own family having prayers and supper after breaking their religious fast that night.

Shaik denied allegations before Judge Piet Koen and assessors that she and Vather were friends, had a “romantic” or sexual relationship or that she had given him money and gifts, including a car.

Shaik achieved notoriety in the 1990s when she was dubbed the “suitcase murderess” for her role in the November 1992 death of her husband’s alleged mistress.

She was found guilty of masterminding the murder of her brother’s wife, Ashia Hassangee, who was drowned in a bath in her Johannesburg home before her body was put into a suitcase and dropped off a cliff at the top of Van Reenen’s Pass.

Shaik was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 1994. She was released on parole in December 2002.

Replying to questions by state advocate Dheelan Naidoo yesterday, Shaik said she met Vather twice in New Hanover prison — once while she waited to testify before the Jali Commission and again at an “open day”.

After her release from prison, she only had contact with him twice when he “tried to harass” her. He came to her office once and was abusive, but her staff sent him away.

Another time he accosted her in the street and tried to take her cellphone. She held on to it and he grabbed her bangles and fled. The jewellery was returned to her by Vather’s mother.

Under cross-examination by defence advocate Di Franklin, it was suggested to Shaik that in an affidavit when she and other family members obtained a protection order against Vather in September 2005, she referred to her “friendship” with Vather and detailed numerous alleged incidents where he threatened her.

These included one where he threatened her life in a car at the Lion Park, and another where he allegedly jumped on to her car bonnet and threatened to smash the windscreen. She also stated that he came to her home and she told him to leave because her husband did not wish her to “keep his company”.

When asked why she did not tell the court about these incidents but gave the impression they were mere acquaintances, she said they were true and that it was a “long time ago”. Judge Koen warned her that he was getting the impression she was “playing with the court” and that there was a “deeper history”. She denied this.

The case is proceeding.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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