Faizel Patel - 18/02/2020
Advocate Gerrie Nel has questioned the positioning of the bodies of a 31-year-old woman and her four children who were killed in a house fire in July 2011.
Nel is questioning a fire expert about that fateful night nine years ago when Suraya Deedat and her children aged 6 months to four years-old died of smoke inhalation after one of the children’s pillows fell onto an electric heater in their room.
Suraya’s husband Naeem was the sole survivor.
Reporting from the Johannesburg Magistrates, Radio Islam’s Hoosein Mohammed says Nel shifted his focus while questioning the fire chief.
“The fire expert opined that the positions were abnormal which indicated some form of foul play. However Naeem's lawyer Shaheen Seedat states that the fire expert was never on the scene and was only brought into the case late last year making deductions from pictures”
Speaking to Radio Islam, Seedat says the fire was previously ruled as accidental.
“Christoffel Noordwyk Loots who was the original fire expert was on the scene, he interviewed Naeem, he studied everything carefully, he found that there was no accelerance. In his findings, he said that he accepts Naeem’s version and the probable cause of it was classified as accidental.”
Afriforum’s Andrew Lisk says the inquest is an appropriate forum for the evidence to be properly heard and recorded and that the judicial officer has an opportunity to evaluate all the evidence and then make a finding.
“One of the important aspects for us is that the finding must indicate whether a crime has been identified and whether someone is criminally liable for that crime if that’s established.”
Lisk says while this case is only an inquest into the incident, a prosecution could follow if Naeem is found to have been complicit in the deaths of his wife and children.