20 April 2018

South Africa: Prosecutor in Siam Lee Case Suggests She May Have Been Killed At Suspect's Home, Court Hears

The charge sheet alleges that young Durban escort Siam Lee was murdered in a secluded sugarcane field in New Hanover where the charred remains of her body were found.

But on Friday, prosecutor Surekha Marimuthu suggested that the crime had actually been committed at a house on Controversy Road, Assagay.

This is the home of the man accused of the crime and where he was eventually arrested after a massive manhunt following Lee's abduction in Durban North in January this year.

Her body was found about a week later.

The accused, who is also facing an unrelated rape charge, is applying for bail before Durban Magistrate Mohamed Motala and has been under cross-examination for some days.

In his evidence, he declined to go into the merits of the case, but alleged that he had been assaulted by private investigator Brad Nathanson who had "ambushed" him at his home on January 17 upon his return from a Johannesburg business trip.

'Taxi driver's' R97 000 payslip

On Friday, the prosecutor questioned him about the ownership of the house and who paid for it.

The man objected, asking what the relevance of the questions was.

"The State will allege that the deceased was murdered at the house, which is owned by his mother but where he lives," Marimuthu responded.

This seemed to be news to the accused who raised his eyebrows, repeated what she said, and laughed.

It emerged yesterday that the Mercedes V-Class, which it is alleged was used to abduct Lee, was worth R1.2m and was owned by the accused's uncle.

The man said his uncle worked for him at his biofuel company and he let him use the car.

The prosecutor said the purchase of the car - whose supporting documents included a pay slip reflecting earnings of almost R97 000 a month - was being investigated by the police.

"Your uncle is a full-time taxi driver... the complainant is Absa bank which believes false documents were used to obtain finance for it," she said.

The accused denied this. "He works for me and I am entitled to pay him what I want," he said.

Alleged assault

The car, which was damaged, was found by Nathanson in the accused's garage and was towed to Pinetown police station.

The man said Nathanson and his team had broken the window into the garage in order to "unhook" the automated door and gain access.

He said when he got home, he had been pushed to the ground and handcuffed.

"I didn't know who they were at the time. I assumed they were the police."

He said while Nathanson was "hitting and kicking" him, a woman and her daughter had stood at the fence and told him to stop.

"The woman was shouting and asking what was happening. Nathanson and his wife told her to f**k off and mind her own business."

Asked if he was going to call the mother and daughter as witnesses, he said he did not know who they were because, while he assumed they might live on the road, he did not know any of his neighbours.

The application will continue next month. Motala said he, the State and the defence were all concerned about the lack of progress because the court had to deal with so many other matters at the same time.

He said he had been released from his normal duties and when the matter resumed from May 9 to 11, "it will be for full days".

After cross-examination ends, the State is expected to call the investigating officer when, for the first time, the strength of the State's case will be disclosed.

Source: News24

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