Court to decide on hearsay evidence in Rameez Patel trial

Rameez Patel has appeared for murder. (Chester Makana, News24)
Rameez Patel has appeared for murder. (Chester Makana, News24)

Polokwane - The Limpopo High Court will have to analyse two witness statements before making a ruling on hearsay evidence in the Rameez Patel murder trial.

Judge Joseph Raulinga ordered the state to hand over the statements of Sibongile Ngwenya and Danny Gundiza for the court to analyse the contents before make a ruling.

The two witnesses - former employees of Patel - allegedly told a police officer that they were leaving department of justice's Witness Programme expressing concern over programme's stipend.

READ: Patel murder trial marred by 3 missing key State witnesses

Patel is accused of killing his wife Fatima in 2015.

State prosecutor Mashudu Mudau on Tuesday submitted an application asking the court to admit hearsay evidence of Ngwenya and Gundiza so that it could be interrogated by the court.

Interest of justice

Ngwenya and Gundiza were employed by Patel and worked at his home.

Mudau told the court that allowing the pair's statements to be admitted would not amount to violating Patel's rights.

READ: Rameez Patel in 2 courts for mother and wife's murders

He argued that it was in the interest of justice that their evidence be admitted to guide the court in determining the case against Patel because it corroborated with the evidence of other witnesses.

"Already, we know that Sibongile and Danny were at the house when the accused ordered them to leave through the accused brother Razeen," Mudau said.

Madau argued two cases in which hearsay evidence was accepted by courts. He said it had set a precedent in matters were witnesses could not be traced.

The court heard that Ngwenya and Gundiza, both Zimbabwean nationals, apparently lodged a complaint against department of justice and correctional service's witness protection programme for "low compensation".

The witness protection programme helps witnesses with safety and security, shelter and food stipend.

READ: Rameez Patel arrested in connection with the death of his mother

The court also heard that following their complaint, the two left the country and returned home to Zimbabwe. Police have been struggling to track them down ever since.

It emerged that Ngwenya had discovered a firearm in Patel's bedroom, but no firearm had been recovered from the accused since his arrest in 2015. He has vehemently denied having possession of any firearm.

Murder allegations

According to Mudau, there was consistent and clear corroboration of evidence given by Ngwenya and Gundiza. On Wednesday the court adjourned for the judge to study the witness statements.

Patel is standing trial for the murder of his wife Fatima who was shot and killed in 2015.
In a separate matter, he was arrested again last week while he was out on bail in connection with the murder of his mother.

On Tuesday, the court heard that Patel's brother-a witness-had fled the country fearing that his life was in danger.

Mudau told the court that the State was left with no option after his brother Razeen registered concern over his safety shortly after his mother was killed in September.

According to Mudau, Razeen refused to be taken into the department of justice and correctional service's witness protection programme.

Mudau told the court that Razeem emerged as a potential witness in the murder case of Patel's wife over the weekend.

He said evidence from Razeen was gathered when Patel was arrested on Friday for his mother Mahejeen Banu Patel murder.

Mahejeen, 51 was shot and killed when an armed Patel allegedly opened fire on her and their domestic worker.

Patel was arrested 10 days later and appeared in the Polokwane Magistrate's Court on Monday for her murder.

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