Najwa takes 'calculated gamble'

2009-05-27 10:06

Cape Town - Najwa Peterson, the widow and convicted murderer of entertainer Taliep Petersen, on Tuesday made a "calculated gamble" with her application to the Supreme Court of Appeal for special leave to appeal against her conviction and sentence.

Petersen "pleaded humbly" in her sworn statement of more than 160 pages to the appeal court that leave to appeal be granted to her.

The application was handed in to the president of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Judge Lex Mpati.

He will now give the State time to respond and the application will then be submitted to two appeal judges for consideration.

The two judges may then either allow or refuse the application, or order that arguments are verbally heard about the application.

Professor Tom Coetzee, a former criminal law lecturer at the University of the North West, said on Tuesday that Petersen's application for leave to appeal was a "calculated gamble".

Could get life sentence

"It is basically a certainty that the State will bring a cross-appeal application in which it will ask for leave to appeal Petersen's sentence, especially for the murder charge."

Petersen was sentenced to 28 years in prison for the murder charge and two further charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Judge Siraj Desai found in the Western Cape High Court that "compelling and substantial" circumstances existed to prevent her from getting a life sentence for the murder charge, said Coetzee.

"The State disagrees. Other legal experts also don't agree. If the State comes with a cross-appeal and the appeal court finds indeed that Judge Desai made a mistake in finding for these circumstances, then the appeal court has to impose the life sentence.

"This means that she will then, according to the Act on Correctional Services, have to serve at least 25 years in prison, whereas with the current 28 years she may get parole after serving 14 years," said Coetzee.

Advocate Johann Engelbrecht SC, Petersen's advocate, did not want to comment on these statements.