Mother’s fight ends in success

2014-07-10 00:00

CAPE TOWN — She knew her daughter would not have killed herself, a Pietermaritzburg woman said yesterday ­after her long fight to make the killer pay ended in success.

Sara Asmall succeeded in getting her daughter Rochelle Naidoo’s former boyfriend convicted in a private prosecution for her murder in 2005.

Faizel Hendricks was convicted in the Malmesbury Regional Court yesterday.

The case against him was the first private prosecution since the so-called Trojan Horse case in Cape Town in 1985, in which several policemen were prosecuted, but acquitted, for the murder of protesters.

Asmall burst into tears during the judgment, and said afterwards: “At last, my daughter can rest in peace.

“I’m happy it’s over, it’s been nine years.”

In court, Hendricks stared straight ahead.

He and Naidoo were romantically involved from 2002 until her death on June 28, 2005.

Evidence indicated that the couple had a terrible row that evening, after which Naidoo (27) was shot in the mouth and died.

She and Hendricks were the only people in her flat.

Hendricks was arrested and charged with Naidoo’s murder. He pleaded not guilty and the case was later withdrawn by the director of public prosecutions.

A judicial inquest followed, but the result was inconclusive.

It was after this that Asmall and her husband, Yunus, took the unusual decision to launch a private prosecution, firmly believing that Naidoo would not have taken her own life.

Yesterday, Asmall said Hendricks never came to the funeral and never called to apologise and that angered her.

Her father-in-law, Yusuf Asmall, persuaded them to carry on after the inquest.

The Asmalls have been commuting to Cape Town and Malmesbury with their advocate Gideon Scheltema and their attorney, A.K. Ayoob, for the case.

Yunus has however recently been unwell and was not in court for yesterday’s verdict. “My husband has been my pillar of strength,” Sara said yesterday.

The couple have another daughter, Meshka Asmall (18), who is studying medicine in Mauritius. “She often tells me she lost out on a sister,” said Sara.

She said she would advise other parents who suspect their children are being abused in their relationship to stand by them.

Regional magistrate Michelle Adams said the aim of the prosecution was to determine whether Naidoo died as the result of a crime or whether she took her own life.

Although Hendricks testified at the inquest, he opted to remain silent during the trial.

Adams said although that was his right, it left many unanswered questions about what happened that night.

“The only conclusion that can be reached is that the accused assaulted the deceased ... and that he pulled the trigger. He is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Hendricks must be back in court on September 30 for sentence to be delivered. He is free on a warning until then.

What is a private prosecution?

Several legal experts told sister paper Die Burger that private prosecutions are extremely rare.

“It is highly unusual,” more than one said.

The Criminal Procedure Act lays down that in order to launch a private prosecution, a person must have an exceptional interest in the outcome of the case.

The invidual also has to put up security to cover the costs, which would normally be borne by the state.

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