Statements don’t add up

2010-06-04 00:00

THE high court where Romila Singh (53) is on trial for the February 2009 murder of her daughter-in-law, Fiona Khader, at Ganies Corner Flats viewed CCTV footage yesterday showing Singh and an unknown black man enter and leave the flats three times on the morning of the murder.

The footage spans 24 minutes between 9.50 am and 10.13 am.

Singh, who is short and slight with grey hair and glasses, is prone to sway restlessly back and forth in the accused’s dock as she intently studies the faces of witnesses testifying at her trial.

She has denied participating in her daughter-in-law’s murder.

She claims in a statement before court that she accompanied Khader to Ganies Flats to fetch cellphones on behalf of Khader’s lover, Abdul Khan, who drove them to Pietermaritzburg from Durban.

The lifts were broken and she decided to wait for Khader downstairs, she said.

When Khader did not return after 20 minutes, Singh alleges, Khan took her back to Durban and said he would return to fetch Khader.

Defence attorney Kelvin Singh told Captain Rumen Maistry, who showed the CCTV footage to the court, that Singh does not dispute that she appears on the video, but suggested that “a number of other people” also entered and left the building during the period.

Maistry agreed, but said it was significant that Singh and the man (who wore a green jacket) entered and left the building on each occasion “within seconds” of each other.

On one occasion Singh is running as she emerges from the building.

The final clip of the CCTV footage shows the man leave and walk to the right before stopping outside a store where he gazes into a window.

Seven seconds later Singh, who is holding a packet, follows him and appears to catch up with him before the camera loses track of them.

Maistry testified that when Singh made a statement to him shortly after the murder, she did not mention that she was in Pietermaritzburg the day Khader was killed.

In fact she maintained she was in Durban.

The court has heard evidence that Singh reported to police that she was robbed in Durban that morning, but investigators later recovered her handbag, identity documents and her cellphone, which she’d reported stolen, from her flat.

A Pietermaritzburg resident, Kavith Maharaj, testified yesterday that on the morning of the murder he was smoking outside his flat, which overlooks Ganies, when he observed Singh behaving “oddly”, repeatedly walking up and down a flight of stairs in the building.

He decided to report her behaviour to the police after he read about Khader’s murder at the flats in The Witness the following day.

The trial is set to proceed on Monday.

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