Murder accused not called to testify in defence

2010-02-25 00:00

THE decision not to call murder accused Mohamed Shuaib Sathar to give evidence in his defence in the trial in which he is charged with killing his second cousin, Safia Mahomed Asmal (19), in Estcourt in September 2005, was questioned by the prosecution yesterday.

State advocate Dorian Paver asked Sathar’s father, Asgur Sathar, why he believed he was called to give evidence on his son’s behalf when the “most competent person” to explain his movements on the day in question was the accused himself.

His question raised an objection from defence advocate Gideon Scheltema SC, who said the accused’s father was not qualified to reply.

Paver suggested to both Asgur Sathar and his wife, Sarah, who testified in support of their son’s alibi for the alleged time of the murder, that they would be prepared to “go to the extent of committing perjury” to protect their son and prevent him going to jail.

Cross-examining Asgur Sathar, Paver suggested that CCTV footage, which Sather had earlier claimed would exone­rate his son by showing he was in his father’s shop on the morning of the murder, was not dated and did not indicate times. It simply showed footage of Shuaib Sathar inside the shop “at some point during the day” for a total of about 23 minutes.

Paver put it to Asgur Sathar that it was likely his son had gone to see Asmal that morning as he had had a fight with his mother, which had resulted in him tearing up his learner’s licence and setting fire to his identity document, according to his parents’ evidence.

The couple testified their son was “close” to Asmal and confided in her. The weekend before the murder he had gone to stay in her home for three days after another argument at home over Sarah Sathar’s missing cellphone.

Asgur Sathar responded that his son may also have decided to talk to his other cousin, who works in his shop, but Paver said the CCTV footage showed Shua­ib Sathar never spoke to anyone at all for the entire 23 minutes.

He simply sat on a counter and for “about two minutes he held his head in his hands”.

Sathar’s parents said they did not view their son’s behaviour in tearing up the learner’s licence and damaging the identity document as “extreme”, and said it was “normal” and the result of a petty argument.

Sarah Sathar said the argument started when she told her son she did not want him to see a certain friend. He refused to go for his driving lesson, tore up his learner’s licence and burnt his identity document. When he calmed down he asked for money to buy cigarettes and she gave it to him. On his return, he said he was going to Pietermaritzburg, but she refused to give him the fare and he then left the house.

Paver questioned the couple about the clothing their son allegedly wore on the day of the murder, saying the damp clothing given to the police by Sarah Sathar, and on which a police dog “sniffed human blood”, was not the clothing the accused was wearing in the CCTV footage, showing he must have got changed.

The defence earlier called specialist forensic pathologist Dr Reggie Perumal to give evidence about the possible cause of a “blue eye” suffered by the victim. Dr Lalitha Badul testified the discolouration of the eye may have been the result of “seepage” of blood into the eye area, but Perumal disagreed. In his opinion, the blue eye was caused by “blunt trauma” and was inflicted “some time” before the victim died.

The court was told that Asmal suffered 13 stab wounds to her back, including five “star-shaped” wounds to the buttocks, showing the attacker stabbed and then twisted the knife in her flesh.

She also suffered a fractured skull and her throat was deeply slit. Perumal and Badul agreed the neck injuries caused her death.

The trial will continue today.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.