Cousin killer convicted

2010-05-29 00:00

NO emotion showed yesterday on the face of Shuaib Sathar (23) when he was found guilty of the brutal murder of his second cousin, Safia Asmal (19), at Estcourt on September 15, 2005.

Moments later he sat smiling and chatting to his mother while awaiting submissions on sentencing, which will take place on June 3.

His parents, Sarah and Asgur Sathar, said they are prepared for the guilty verdict declared at the end of a four-and-a-half-day judgment. “We will appeal,” Asgur Sathar added.

Defence advocate Gideon Scheltema SC said after the judgment that Sathar still maintains his innocence.

“There is no question of arguing that there is remorse or anything of the sort,” he told Judge Atkins Moleko and two assessors.

Scheltema said he cannot make submissions about whether the murder was premeditated or not because “motive must play a role and the accused denies he is the perpetrator”.

Scheltema said it was “undoubtedly a brutal killing” and the court has to look at the objective facts such as the locality of the injuries and whether it was a “sustained attack” or not.

Medical evidence was that Asmal’s skull was fractured, she suffered 13 stab wounds to her back — including five “star-shaped” wounds to the buttocks, indicating the attacker had stabbed and then twisted the knife in her flesh — and her throat was deeply slit. It was said to be likely the killer had applied “more than one stroke” when he cut her throat.

Scheltema said in mitigation Sathar was just 18 years old at the time, has already served five years in jail since his arrest, has “no real life experience” and is emotionally immature, according to a psychologist. He also had little formal education, having “battled” at school, and had a history of abusing mandrax and cocaine, which led to time in a rehabilitation centre. “He is a rather non-assertive individual who could hardly speak in court and had to be assisted [by an interpreter] to be heard,” he said.

In his judgment, Moleko said the motive for the murder is not known. However, he said that on the morning of the murder Sathar had argued with his mother because she didn’t want him to see a certain friend. He behaved “irrationally”, tearing up his learner driver’s licence and burning his identity document.

The judge said that when Sarah Sathar refused to give her son the fare to travel to Pietermaritzburg, he probably went to the victim’s house as he had done the previous weekend,when there was an argument at home over his mother’s missing cellphone. There was evidence he and the victim were close.

Judge Moleko rejected a defence submission that Asmal’s husband may have killed her out of jealousy. He said there was “very scanty, hearsay” evidence suggesting there were problems between the couple.

Evidence implicating Sathar included traces of the victim’s blood on his shoe and clothing, a shoe print in blood at the murder scene and admissions to police when he pointed out places at the murder scene and led them to the knife used.

The judge rejected the defence version that state witnesses are involved in a conspiracy to falsely implicate Sathar.

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