10 years later, killer still unsentenced
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The parents of a young Pietermaritzburg woman murdered 10 years ago spoke on Thursday of their desperation to see justice done for their child.
Pietermaritzburg businessman Yunus Asmall and his wife, Sara, were in Cape Town this week for the sentencing of their daughter’s killer, but came away empty-handed – again.
The couple were still in Cape Town on Thursday morning after Faizel Hendricks was due to be sentenced for murdering 27-year-old Rochelle Naidoo – his then girlfriend – in 2005.
The sentencing was postponed on Wednesday when the defence could not bring all its witnesses to court.
But on Thursday morning Yunus Asmall told the Daily News that every court appearance represented one more step towards “total closure”.
“It affects us every day, but it feels like we’re making progress and getting closer. We need to have faith that what will happen, will happen. Ten years is a long time.”
He said he and his wife were very frustrated by the postponement to May 8 but understood that the “law needed to take its course”.
“Justice will prevail. We need to hold on to that.”
Asmall said Hendricks needed to have a “fair trial”.
“We are at the stage now where he has been convicted, but he has to present the circumstances that will mitigate his sentence. That is his right.”
He said the correctional officer, called by the defence, had been ill. “These things happen. We’ve come this far, so we need to be patient.”
He said the mood in the courtroom, while far from relaxed, was not as tense as “one would expect”.
“We just see them (Hendricks’ family) and they see us, but we don’t say anything. We have nothing against his family at all.
“We, my wife and I, just keep to ourselves.”
He said the family had spent “a lot of money” in pursuing a private prosecution.
“I don’t want to say how much (we’ve spent) but all the costs are shouldered by us, not the state as they would be in a normal prosecution. It’s hugely expensive.”
He said that every appearance and professional hired – including pathologists, advocates, and ballistic experts – added to the cost.
Hendricks, whose case is believed to have made history as the first conviction as a result of a private prosecution, appeared briefly in the dock of the Cape Town Regional Court on Wednesday.
Court proceedings in the matter entered their tenth year this year. Naidoo’s parents have been attending proceedings, flying to Cape Town from Pietermaritzburg each time.
Sighs of disappointment could be heard across the gallery on Wednesday where Hendricks’ relatives and Naidoo’s parents sat, when the matter was once more postponed.
Advocate John van der Berg, for Hendricks, told the court they had “endeavoured to secure” at least one of the witnesses, but were unsuccessful. He said they were confident the matter would proceed at the next available date.
Magistrate Michelle Adams postponed proceedings to May 8.
Naidoo was found dead in her Palm Mews flat in Woodstock on June 28, 2005.
Hendricks claimed she had killed herself when she grabbed his unlicensed .38 Special revolver and put the gun in her mouth.
He said he had nothing to do with her murder and had pleaded not guilty.
The Asmalls, well known in Pietermaritzburg for their Asmalls chain of clothing stores, did not believe their daughter had committed suicide.
Hendricks and Naidoo had been romantically involved from 2002 until she died.
After the National Prosecuting Authority elected not to go ahead with the prosecution, the Asmalls followed legal channels, relying on forensic and ballistics experts to prosecute Hendricks.
Nine years later, magistrate Adams found Hendricks had assaulted his girlfriend before he pulled the trigger.
Private prosecutions can be initiated by individuals or an organisation after the Director of Public Prosecutions issues a certificate allowing them.
Hendricks was convicted of Naidoo’s murder in July last year in the Malmesbury Regional Court.