Singh: ‘I had Khader killed’

2010-06-09 00:00

IN a startling development, Durban grandmother Romila Singh (53) did an about-turn yesterday and admitted that she arranged the murder of her daughter-in-law, Fiona Khader, last February, and accompanied the assassin to carry out the deed.

Singh confirmed in a statement handed to the court by her attorney, Kelvin Singh, yesterday that she was behind Khader’s murder, which was executed by a man named “Simon” whom she met only once and to whom she paid R5 000.

From the time of her arrest just days after Khader’s body was found in a toilet at Ganies Corner Flats in East Street last year until yesterday, Singh had steadfastly maintained her innocence.

At the start of her trial before Judge Achmat Jappie and an assessor last week, Singh pleaded not guilty and in a statement to court claimed she left Khader at Ganies flats and went back to Durban after she had tired of waiting for Khader to return.

Singh said in the statement that she and her daughter-in-law were brought to Pietermaritzburg by Khader’s Pakistani lover, Abdul Khan, to buy cellphones on his behalf.

However, in his evidence Khan said this was a lie, as he had neither a car nor a driver’s licence.

Yesterday, when it was expected that Singh would begin testifying in her defence, her lawyer handed up “supplementary admissions” in which she revealed her role in Khader’s murder. He said Singh would not give verbal evidence.

Singh was taken ill on Monday, but the court was informed that the doctor who examined her at Northdale Hospital found that her illness was due to “anxiety and stress” related to her trial.

He prescribed medication and pronounced her fit to continue.

Judge Jappie will deliver judgment today.

Wearing a black jersey, Singh stood shakily in the dock yesterday as she was asked by the judge to confirm her latest admissions. She responded: “Yes, yes and yes,” to Jappie’s inquiries as to whether the document had been read to her, whether she had signed it and whether she understood that in it she admits that she planned and arranged Khader’s murder.

In the document, Singh says that the day before the murder — February 23, 2009 — she met an “African male” known to her as Simon outside Shoprite in Durban “for the first time”.

“I asked him to assist me by killing [Fiona Khader]. He accepted.

The next day, she, Khader and Simon “travelled by taxi to Pietermaritzburg. The deceased and myself entered Ganies Building situated at 152 East Street [at 9.50 am]. Simon followed us into the building. When we entered the building Simon grabbed the deceased and took her to the toilet on the ground floor.

“I went up the flight of stairs. Simon killed the deceased. I left the building at about 10.15 that morning. I travelled back to Durban. Simon informed me that he killed the deceased.

“On the afternoon of February 24, 2009, I handed Simon a sum of R5 000.”

The admissions give no indication of Singh’s reason for having Khader killed.

The state alleged in its indictment that Singh disapproved of Khader’s relationship with Khan, and that she was upset at the prospect of Khader and her son, Riaz, getting a Muslim divorce, which would result in her losing her two grandchildren.

Photographs of the crime scene, which are before the court, show Khader’s body lying on the ground with her head in the bowl of a toilet. Stab wounds are visible on her neck and body.

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