Defence ropes in experts to try and prove Rameez Patel did not kill his wife

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Rameez Patel
Rameez Patel
PHOTO: Deaan Vivier
  • The defence in the murder trial of Polokwane businessman Rameez Patel has roped in a top senior counsel.
  • Two medical experts have also been enlisted to testify on the post-mortem report.
  • The defence wants to show the court Patel could not have been the killer.

The defence in the murder trial of businessman Rameez Patel on Wednesday roped in a top Durban-based senior advocate to assist with the medical aspects of the case.

Mahomed Saleem Khan SC told the presiding judge, Joseph Raulinga, he was instructed on behalf of the accused to assist in certain aspects of the case.

Two medical experts, Dr Ajay Maharaj and Professor H Kamal, were also enlisted by the defence to testify on certain aspects of the post-mortem report.

Patel is standing trial in the Polokwane High Court in Limpopo for the murder of his wife, Fatima, at their marital home in the city's suburbs of Nirvana on 10 April 2015.

From the witness stand, Maharaj told the court it was improbable Patel's wife died of a gunshot wound.

READ | 'This court has a bad omen': Judge in Rameez Patel trial bemoans ongoing delays

"The bullet is not the primary cause of death. The gunshot would not have caused death. It did not touch any vital parts.

Maharaj said:

In this circumstance, if the gunshot was the only injury, it would not have caused death.

He added compression of the neck due to strangulation was most likely the cause of death.

"She wouldn't have got oxygen to the lungs and brains. These are the most sensitive organs. The person will start to die in two-and-a-half minutes or reach a state of non-recovery.

"There are structures in the brain and if they are destroyed, life ceases."

The testimony basically disputed the findings of the post-mortem report – compiled by Dr DA Mashalane.

The report found the cause of death was a gunshot wound, strangulation and other injuries.

In bringing its own medical experts, the defence wanted to show the court Patel could not have killed his wife because of the time difference when he was at home, and the time he discovered her body on his return.

Video footage of the movements around Patel's residential complex – played in court on Tuesday – showed he left his home three times before finally returning with his brother, Razeen, in a two-car convoy, an hour later.

The court was told it was at this stage that Patel discovered his wife's body lying in a pool of blood.

READ | 'Who told you to come and testify?' - defence witness in Rameez Patel trial goes silent in court

Maharaj is expected to be cross-examined by prosecutor, advocate Lethabo Mashiane, on Thursday.

Earlier, retired police major-general Harold Engelbrecht suggested Patel's wife might have been killed by an intruder.

Engelbrecht said it was possible for a person to gain entry over a 1.8-metre high wall mounted with an 8 metre by 10 metre wire electric fence that surrounded Patel's residential complex.

He said: 

It's possible that one of the people in the area could have gained access to the residential complex. I would have checked on that if I were an investigating officer.

He was under cross-examination by the State, who showed the court all the individuals and cars that were captured on the video footage around the complex were accounted for.

The video footage, first played on Tuesday, was introduced by the defence to corroborate an aspect in Patel's evidence-in-chief that he found his wife dead and she may have been killed by an intruder.

The trial is set to continue on Thursday.

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