Mistake delays case

2008-02-11 00:00

The bail application of Estcourt murder accused Mohamed Shuaib Sathar (21), charged with the murder of his cousin, Safia Mahomed (21), was adjourned on Friday when the authorities failed to bring the accused to Greytown where the case was due to proceed.

The hearing is now set to proceed in Pietermaritzburg on February 20.

Sathar’s attorney Viren Naidoo said the unnecessary delay was prejudicial and frustrating Sathar and his family.

Naidoo said the trial has been continually plagued by delays, including problems with the court’s recording equipment, illness, and the public service strike last year.

The state has meanwhile presented an affidavit to regional magistrate Fred de Beer and the defence giving reasons for opposing Sathar’s bail application. Inspector Siyabonga Gabriel Kheswa said these include fears for the accused’s safety, as well as the likelihood that he will evade the remainder of his trial.

Kheswa said that during the case, Sathar’s mother, Sara Sathar, was attacked in a vehicle on the N3 highway with “near fatal consequences” and the driver of the vehicle was killed.

Safia Mahomed’s brother, Mohamed Yunus, has been charged in connection with that attack.

“In my opinion this incident demonstrates … that the release of the applicant on bail could potentially disturb the public order or undermine the public peace and security.”

Kheswa said the murder of Safia Mahomed has “induced a deep sense of shock and outrage mainly in the Muslim community of Estcourt”.

Given the emotions expressed and the “high level of tension between the two factions” there is a real danger that if he were released, supporters of the victim’s family would be driven to direct their anger at Sathar “by violent means”.

He said the resources of the SAPS at Estcourt are inadequate to ensure the safety of Sathar and his family at all times.

Kheswa said the evidence against Sathar “is strong”.

He said the state has produced evidence — which has been formally admitted by Sathar — that one of his shoes recovered from his home the day after Safia Mahomed’s murder had traces of her blood on it.

“What is being challenged is that the recovery of the said shoe followed upon an irregular search of the home of the applicant.”

Evidence was led (the admissibility of which is being challenged by the defence) that Sathar pointed out the knife allegedly used to a police officer, made statements “amounting to a confession to the murder” to police, as well as an admission of guilt to a magistrate.

Kheswa also said that any delay is not due to actions of the prosecution or police, but due to “lengthy cross examination of state witnesses” by the defence.

Regarding a psychological report handed in by the defence in support of the bail application, Kheswa said this evidence is being challenged by the state and said, in his dealings with Sathar, he has “not gained the impression that he lacks the degree of intelligence, which Mr [Neville] Hodgson [the psychologist] claims in his report”.

This is Sathar’s third attempt to be granted bail, now based on “new facts”

Sathar is alleged to have murdered his cousin on September 15, 2005 by striking her repeatedly on the head with a dumbbell, stabbing her with a kitchen knife and slitting her throat.

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