Zulpha Jacobs. Photo: Brendan Magaar

Forensic psychiatrist Larissa Panieri-Peter has been appointed to examine Mitchells Plain mother Zulpha Jacobs, who is accused of the murder of her two-year-old son, Tariq.

This emerged in the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday when Jacobs, 31, made a brief appearance in connection with murder and child abandonment charges.

Her lawyer, Bertha Cottle, told the court that the defence had enlisted Panieri-Peter to assess Jacobs’ mental health.

Panieri-Peter had worked at the forensic department of Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital but now works privately and has testified at a number of high-profile cases.

She was involved in the psychiatric assessment of Jacobus Eksteen, who pleaded guilty to the murder of Stellenbosch student Erin van Rensburg.

She also testified at the trial of the naval seaman and serial rapist Tsediso Letsoenya, and at the trial of the former policeman Marius van der Westhuizen, who was convicted of the murders of his three children.

Meanwhile, the investigation into Tariq’s murder has not yet been completed, prosecutor Vukile Gontsana told the court.

Gontsana said two witness statements were still outstanding and requested a further postponement.

The State alleges that Jacobs killed her son and reported him missing on December 29.

Jacobs allegedly told police that her son disappeared after she had taken him to shop at Mitchells Plain Town Centre.

People searched for him and, two days later, a neighbourhood watch member found his body in a shallow grave at a field close to Imperial Primary School in Beacon Valley.

Jacobs appeared to be emotional when she entered the dock on Tuesday and broke down after her court appearance when court orderlies led her to the holding cells below the courtroom.

She has been awaiting trial at Pollsmoor Prison for nearly six months, and the Director of Public Prosecutions has not yet decided whether she will be tried at the Mitchells Plain Regional Court or the Western Cape High Court.

Cottle said Jacobs had abandoned her bail application and did not intend to lodge a future application for her release.

She is expected to appear in court again on August 27.

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Cape Argus