'But there is no body' - lawyer of man charged with wife's murder argues

2018-06-21 14:41
Dawn Basdeo (Supplied)

Dawn Basdeo (Supplied)

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The Pretoria Magistrate's Court heard on Thursday that the charge sheet for Prem Emmanuel Basdeo, who stands accused of murdering his wife, is defective because her body has still not been found.

Basdeo's counsel, advocate Piet Pistorius, alleged that the charges were premature because Dawn Basdeo's body had yet to be found, adding that it hasn't been ascertained if she may just be missing.    

"There is no body, so we don't know whether the wife of my client is dead or alive," said Pistorius. 

Basdeo was arrested last week and charged with murder, defeating the ends of justice and perjury because it is alleged that he was not truthful in his initial statement when he reported his wife as missing.

Read: Case against husband who allegedly murdered his wife postponed

Dawn was last seen on June 8 at her home in Brooklyn, Pretoria. 

It is alleged she left her home on that Friday morning to go to a nearby hospital, but never arrived at the hospital, said police spokesperson Captain Colette Weilbach.

Weilbach said detectives from Brooklyn police station, worked around the clock, making a breakthrough in the case last Sunday after a silver-grey 2007 Mercedes ML63 was found abandoned in Soweto. It was allegedly used by Dawn during the time of her disappearance.

Previous murder charge

Pistorius told the court that it was common cause that Basdeo and his son had been tried for the murder of his first wife in Durban 14 years ago. Basdeo's first wife, Neetha Basdeo, was murdered in 2000. 

It was found that there was no evidence to link Basdeo and his son to the murder, who allege that they were not at home in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal, when Neetha was shot to death.

Pistorius laid out the previous case against his client because the State told the court that it needed more time to investigate the modus operandi of the previous case before Basdeo could apply for bail. 

"The relevance [of the previous murder case] has no bearing on this matter whatsoever. He appears as an innocent person in this case after being acquitted in another case," said Pistorius.

Unfair treatment allegations

Basdeo has also alleged that he has been subjected to illegal and unfair treatment by police while being detained at the holding cells of Brooklyn police station in Pretoria. 

Pistorius said that Basdeo had been assaulted by a member of the police's investigating team to coerce him into cooperating with the investigation, but that he could not identify his attacker. 

"[Basdeo] was also subjected to severe psychological trauma, induced by illegal methods, by members of the investigating team."

The court also heard that Basdeo would now be exercising his constitutional right to remain silent and would not participate to any further questioning by police. 

Prosecutor Sipho Letsoalo said Basdeo showed no signs of injury in court. 

"If he is not assaulted then he cannot identify his assailant because there is no assailant," Letsoalo said.

Also read: I've been tortured since my arrest - Siam Lee murder accused

He added that the State still needed time to investigate the modus operandi of the previous murder case and to compile witness statements before the bail application could proceed. 

The postponement for the bail application was granted for June 26. 

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