Rameez Patel trial: Mysterious box containing slain Fatima Patel's belongings takes centre stage

2018-11-22 22:57
Fatima en Rameez Patel.

Fatima en Rameez Patel.

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Fierce legal argument in the Limpopo High Court dominated proceedings in the trial of murder accused Rameez Patel on Thursday, who is accused of killing his wife Fatima in April 2015.

The argument centred around a box containing bloodied clothes and a gun.

The court earlier heard that Patel had ordered his brother Razeen to hide it in a warehouse. This was after Patel had strangled, shot and killed his wife in Nirvana, Polokwane on April 14, 2015.

The fate of the box and its contents remain crucial in the case since Razeen testified on Monday that Patel ordered him to hide it.

He also testified that he handed the box to Nazreen, who was Patel's girlfriend at the time. He said Nazreen - who eventually married Patel - later told him she had burnt the contents of the box, except the gun.

The fierce argument in court arose when a witness told the court on Thursday that Razeen called and later fetched him from his home on April 15, 2015 – a day after Fatima was murdered.

READ: Limpopo High Court hears details of the day Fatima Patel died

The witness, who cannot be identified in terms of an order by Judge Joseph Raulinga, is a friend of Razeen and came to know Patel through the friendship.

He said he noticed a box on the passenger's side of the vehicle, which caused him to sit uncomfortably.

"I asked him (Razeen) where we were going. He said he was going to hand over the box to Nazreen. I knew Nazreen as the girlfriend of Rameez (Patel) at the time.

"I also asked him about the contents of the box. When he opened it, there was a handbag, some clothes and a gun. I'm not too sure of the make of the gun but it was black," the witness said.

He said Razeen dropped him at a local restaurant near Savannah Mall and proceeded to meet with Nazreen. Razeen returned 10 minutes later without the box.

He was asked by prosecutor Lethabo Mashiane whether he knew by himself or if someone told him what had happened to the box.

However, he answered that Razeen confirmed that he had handed the box to Nazreen. This, Patel's advocate, Johann Engelbrecht, objected to, arguing that the answer was tantamount to hearsay evidence.

Hearsay

After legal exchanges, Judge Raulinga ruled that the evidence was admissible.

This did not sit well with Engelbrecht, who insisted that the ruling should be recorded as a "special entry" in terms of Section 317 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

The judge agreed to record the ruling as a "special entry" – a matter which may be a ground for appeal at the end of the case.

Mashiane argued however: "If it's not hearsay, it cannot suddenly spring up as an irregularity. The defence was given ample time to convince the court if it is hearsay."

This led to Raulinga recalling his ruling.

Court was adjourned to give the defence team and the State time to prepare further arguments on the admissibility of part of the witness's evidence and the "special entry" matter.

After the adjournment and lengthy legal arguments, Judge Raulinga ruled that the evidence of the witness was admissible.

Engelbrecht has now lodged an application for Patel's discharge on the basis that some witnesses from the start of the case in 2015 were not properly sworn in before testifying.

He read a list of eight witnesses who were not properly sworn in. The trial was postponed to January 21, 2019.

Meanwhile, Patel is expected to appear in the Polokwane Magistrate's Court on Friday, November 23, for the murder of his mother, Mahajeen.

Patel is suspected to have murdered his mother after his brother told her about the circumstances around Fatima's murder.

Razeen himself was shot four times in Mankweng outside Polokwane, and the alleged gunman, Ali Salman, is out on bail.

Razeen has since sought sanctuary in the United Kingdom and was flown into the country to give evidence against Patel under heavy protection.

Patel's father, Feroz, was also killed in an unsolved separate incident while Nazreen's father, Yunus Mayet, was also kidnapped and killed. However, Patel has not been linked to their murders.

Read more on:    rameez patel  |  polokwane  |  crime
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