Report by Anna Majavu
Najwa Petersen and two of her co-accused have been found guilty of the December 2006 murder of her entertainer husband Taliep Petersen - but the question of "who fired the shot that killed Taliep" will never be answered.
"Though the court cannot find who pulled the trigger, it does not mean that the accused did not participate in the murder," Judge Siraj Desai said in handing down his 210-page ruling in the Cape high court yesterday.
He said it was obvious, though, that Petersen had played "a pivotal role in the murder of her husband".
He described her as an "abysmally poor witness whose testimony was festered with lies".
Judge Desai found Najwa, Abdoer Emjedi and Waheed Hassen guilty of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances. Sentencing will start on February 4 next year.
The fourth accused, Jefferson Snyders, was found not guilty of murder but convicted on one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances.
The court believed Snyders' testimony that he had been told he was to help stage a robbery for a couple who wanted to make an insurance claim.
Petersen was found to have asked Fahiem Hendricks, who later turned state witness in exchange for immunity from prosecution, to arrange hitmen to murder her husband Taliep at home. Hendricks is still in a witness protection programme.
Petersen had claimed she was asleep when two balaclava-clad men, Hassen and Snyders, broke into her house, found Taliep watching TV and tied him up before kicking him in the face.
She said they came to her room and demanded that she hand over a bag containing about R27000 from her safe
After that they locked her and other family members up in separate rooms before firing the shot that killed Taliep.
Judge Desai said locking up Petersen in a room with both a landline and Taliep's cellphone was "not something any intelligent robber would do".
He also found that Petersen was "unable to explain why she did not phone the police after she was locked up in the main bedroom".
Desai pointed out that Petersen had left the gate unlocked for the men, making her the "Trojan horse in the home".
Taliep's family and friends in the public gallery gasped when the judge recounted police testimony that Petersen made 58 calls to Hendricks in the three days before the murder. She made nine of them minutes before Taliep's murder.