Twist to tycoon’s murder

2016-03-15 12:30
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Pietermaritzburg ­- The blood of slain Pietermaritzburg ­businessman Ashraf Tajoodeen may have been shed at the behest of a close relative.

In a shocking twist of events, a murder that was once thought to be the result of a foiled robbery has now taken on more personal ­connotations, with the motive for the murder said to involve Tajoodeen’s business, Lee’s Auto Sales.

A close family member — whose identity is known to The Witness, but cannot be revealed until he appears in court — was hauled into custody by crime intelligence operatives on Sunday night.

It is believed the relative acquired the ­assistance of an employee close to the family, who hired two hitmen to carry out the murder, which was made to look like a robbery gone wrong.

After the relative was arrested at 9 pm on Sunday, police worked tirelessly through the night and subsequently arrested the employee and two alleged hitmen in the Willowfountain area.

The relative and employee have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, and the ­alleged hitmen were charged with murder.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson ­Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said the ­employee and hitmen lived in close proximity to each other. “All four suspects have made statements confessing to their actions in the murder,” he said.

According to Ngobese, Tajoodeen’s family had gathered at his house on Sunday to “discuss his estate”. During the meeting one relative began weeping and “somehow gave an indication that he knew more about the murder”.

“The family alerted the police and when the officers went to the house, the family member was arrested. Upon questioning, the family member confessed to being the mastermind behind the murder plot,” Ngobese said.

A police source, who could not be named, said the motive for Tajoodeen’s murder could be business related.

It is believed the implicated relative made a statement at the Pietermaritzburg ­Magistrate’s Court yesterday, while the two ­alleged hitmen were taken to Tajoodeen’s house, where they were to give a detailed ­breakdown of how the incident took place.

It now appears that the relative had met with the employee and hitmen on various occasions to plan the murder and discuss payment.

It is believed the employee let the two men into the house, where they waited for ­Tajoodeen to arrive.

At the time of the murder, The Witness ­reported that two men had gained entry to ­Tajoodeen’s home on James Niven Road, just off Woodhouse Road, and sneaked up on a ­domestic worker who was preparing food in the kitchen.

It was alleged the robbers bound and gagged the domestic worker before locking her in the bathroom.

When Tajoodeen arrived, he was confronted by the two men and a fight ensued. The ­businessman was stabbed to death, sustaining wounds to the neck, before the “robbers” ­escaped without stealing anything.

When The Witness arrived at the house on the night of the murder, the implicated ­employee could be seen on the property, weeping while giving a statement to the police.

All four suspects are due to appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court today.

A member of the car sales fraternity, who asked not to be named to “not cause any bad blood with the family”, described the accused relative as “respectful and jovial”. The man said he was “shocked out of his wits” that the relative could have planned Tajoodeen’s murder.

“I have only known him [the relative] for a few years. He was always smiling and so ­confident. I am so baffled,” the man said.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  murder  |  crime

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