Cape Town - In November 2002, all police investigators had was the body of businessman Sulaiman Brey, who had been stabbed to death in the shop he had worked at for 27 years.
There were no leads.
But all that changed in December when the culprit came forward and said that he had killed 63-year-old Brey 11 years ago.
Raafiq Abrahams, 25, has confessed to the murder - committed when he was just 14 - and made his third appearance in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
The Kenwyn man was arrested on December 7 after he admitted he had stabbed Brey to death. The confession was made to Sulaiman’s brother, Akkil.
Sulaiman was killed inside his Wittebome Superette in Wynberg after a botched robbery on November 13, 2002.
The alleged knifeman – Abrahams – fled, and moved on with his life.
In 2008, Abrahams left South Africa to work and study in Dubai. He qualified as a chef and worked at the Armani Hotel in Dubai for about three years.
Earlier last year, Abrahams fell down a flight of stairs and broke his leg, which needed extensive medical treatment. He decided to return to Cape Town because he was unable to stand on his leg and could not continue working as a chef.
On December 7, Abrahams went to Akkil Brey’s café in Wynberg to tell him that he had killed Sulaiman.
During Abrahams’ first appearance on December 10, the prosecution told the court that Abrahams had admitted to killing Sulaiman Brey.
Three days later, Abrahams applied for bail and handed an affidavit to the court detailing his decision to come clean.
In it, Abrahams confirmed that he had spoken to a relative of Sulaiman Brey and said: “About 11 years ago I was involved in an incident where my actions led to the death of the deceased.
“Subsequent to my meeting with the family, the police were contacted and I informed them of the above. I was taken into custody and later made a full confession to a captain from Kirstenhof police. I will, during my trial, disclose full reasons for my actions and intentions for confessing to this offence.
“My family has provided clinical reports to my attorney regarding my psychological assessments, dated 2002. I confirm I went through a troubled teenage phase. Full details will be disclosed during my trial,” Abrahams said.
He handed his travel documents to the investigating officer to prove he was not a flight risk. Bail was set at R1 000.
Abrahams has now been charged with murder and aggravated robbery.
Leaning on a crutch, Abrahams made a brief appearance in court on Thursday. Sulaiman Brey’s siblings, daughter and extended family filled a row in the court gallery.
Prosecutor Charlean Olivier told the court that the police’s investigation was complete and that the case was ready to be moved to the trial court.
Abrahams’ lawyer, Milton de la Harpe, confirmed the case would be postponed to obtain a date for his client’s first appearance in the Wynberg Regional Court. Abrahams is due back in court on February 14.
After court, Sulaiman Brey’s daughter, Fowzia Sonday, said she had an epiphany when she heard that Abrahams had came forward.
“It was a ‘wow’ moment for me,” she said.
Sonday described her father as the glue that had kept their family together. “He was a peacemaker, a joker, a loving dad and brother. Since he’s been gone a huge void has been left in our lives.”
Akkil Brey said Abrahams’ admission gave him closure because, after the murder, he and other relatives would drive around suspecting everyone standing on street corners in Wynberg of the crime.
Two days after Abrahams visited him, Akkil Brey made a list of 22 questions that he wanted to ask.
“There are so many questions deep in my heart, but I was absolutely shell-shocked so I never asked him anything that day (he confessed),” he said.