N3 drive-by murderer flees

2010-05-28 00:00

ESTCOURT man Mohamed Azeem Yunus, who was found guilty two weeks ago of the 2007 murder of Vinod Ramsarup and attempted murder of Sarah Sathar and her daughter Abidha (8) in a drive-by shooting on the N3 highway, has skipped bail and become a fugitive from justice.

The shooting was motivated by Yunus’s desire to avenge the 2005 killing of his sister, Safia Asmal (19), allegedly by Sathar’s son, Shuarib.

Judge Achmat Jappie issued a warrant for Yunus’s arrest yesterday and cancelled his R20 000 bail after being informed by defence advocate Shane Matthews that Yunus had allegedly left a note for his wife indicating that he was not coming to court yesterday “or at any time in the future”.

Matthews said he and attorney Petrus Coetzee had tried unsuccessfully to contact Yunus for the previous two days to sign some documents.

Meanwhile, Shuaib Sathar (23), in the dock for the murder of Yunus’s sister, is still awaiting the verdict in his trial which proceeded in a different courtroom at the high court — a stone’s throw from where Yunus was due to be sentenced yesterday.

Sathar allegedly struck her with a dumbbell, stabbing her repeatedly in the back and cutting her throat with a kitchen knife on September 15, 2005,

Judge Atkins Moleko began delivering his detailed judgment in Sathar’s trial on Monday, and will continue today.

Police reinforcements were brought to court and police sniffer dogs combed the high court building yesterday in preparation for the finalisation of the Yunus and Sathar murder trials.

Ironically, both cases — which have resulted in a bitter and bloody feud dividing the two prominent Estcourt families — were set to end almost simultaneously this week.

Sarah Sathar expressed anger yesterday that Yunus’s bail was extended after he had been found guilty on May 14, despite strong opposition from state advocate Sandesh Sankar, who had suggested he would be a flight risk.

Sathar and her husband, Asgur, said Yunus should never have been given the chance to evade justice.

The couple are still bitter over the initial granting of bail to Yunus — largely motivated by claims that he suffered from a serious heart ailment — while their son languished in prison awaiting trial from 2005, having failed in at least three bail applications.

The couple added that they were forced to move from Estcourt as they feared for their lives.

Asgur Sathar confirmed yesterday that he has launched a civil lawsuit for damages against Yunus arising from the attack on his wife.

He said Sarah Sathar’s hospital bill cost in the region of R100 000 and that he has also incurred crippling legal costs arising from the defence of his son.

• During his trial, Yunus admitted that he fired 17 shots at Ramsarup’s bakkie (in which Sarah Sathar was a passenger) on the N3 on May 17, 2007. However, he said he was completely unaware of the presence of Ramsarup and the child in the vehicle. He alleged he had reacted in self- defence when he saw Sarah Sathar point a silver gun at him through the passenger window.

Judge Jappie said the only evidence that “placed a gun in Sarah Sathar’s hand” was that of Yunus himself. No gun was found at the scene of the shooting, and Sarah Sathar’s licensed gun was found in her safe at home by the police.

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