'Witness Hendricks is the mastermind'

State witness Fahiem Hendricks, and not Najwa Petersen, was the mastermind behind the execution-style slaying of her entertainer husband Taliep, the Cape high court heard yesterday.

State witness Fahiem Hendricks, and not Najwa Petersen, was the mastermind behind the execution-style slaying of her entertainer husband Taliep, the Cape high court heard yesterday.

Najwa's counsel, Johan Engelbrecht, was presenting closing arguments in the trial of his client and three men she allegedly hired to kill Taliep on the night of December 16 2006.

Hendricks, who is in a witness protection programme, has testified that Najwa asked him to find someone to carry out a hit on Taliep but he was not present at the killing.

Najwa's version has been that she and Taliep were the victims of a robbery that turned lethal, and that she had been framed by Hendricks, who owed her R240000 for diamonds she had given him to sell.

Engelbrecht told Judge Siraj Desai and two assessors that after repeated questioning and harassment by the police, Hendricks had made a statement in which he minimised his own role in the offence and substituted Najwa for himself as the mastermind.

"Hendricks stands a lot to gain if he curries favour with the SAPS. We cannot deny that factor," Engelbrecht said.

He pointed to inconsistencies between Hendricks' testimony and other versions of events, including the exact date on which Hendricks received an alleged R70000 as payment for the hit on Taliep from Najwa. - Sapa

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