Case dropped against rape and mur­der ac­cused

The Witness - - NEWS - SHARIKA REGCHAND

A MAN charged with the rape and mur­der of Li­tisha Danielle Naidoo (19), whose body was found dumped in a sewer, has been let off the hook.

This is be­cause one of the main wit­nesses who was due to tes­tify in the trial of Christo­pher Sab­badu, has died.

State ad­vo­cate Dhee­lan Naidoo also told the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg high court that the state’s case against Sab­badu was “poor”.

Naidoo of­fered th­ese rea­sons for with­draw­ing charges against Sab­badu, who found him­self a free man af­ter spend­ing more than three years in cus­tody await­ing the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of his trial.

His dad, Sor­rin, said the fam­ily was pleased with his re­lease.

“We prayed a lot and put our faith in the Lord. He an­swered our prayers.”

He added that his son, who did not want to com­ment, was “get­ting along with every­body” and very happy to be at home.

The state had ex­plained to the vic­tim’s fam­ily prior to the case be­ing called up in court yes­ter­day what would hap­pen, and they did not at­tend the case. At­tempts by The Wit­ness to con­tact them for com­ment af­ter­wards were un­suc­cess­ful.

Naidoo’s body was found by po­lice in a stormwa­ter drain near Debi Place in North­dale on Novem­ber 20, 2014.

Sab­badu was ar­rested af­ter­wards and de­nied bail.

His ini­tial trial, which be­gan in the high court in 2016, was be­set with prob­lems.

Af­ter he pleaded not guilty to the charges, he claimed to be suf­fer­ing from a form of mild men­tal re­tar­da­tion and was sent to Fort Napier Hospi­tal for men­tal eval­u­a­tion.

The out­come was that he was found to be fit to stand trial.

Then in June last year, the pre­sid­ing judge in the case re­cused him­self from the trial fol­low­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion by Sab­badu’s ad­vo­cate, Di Franklin, fol­low­ing an “in­cor­rect” ar­ti­cle pub­lished in a Dur­ban news­pa­per and on­line.

In it, the judge was quoted as hav­ing warned Sab­badu “to stop play­ing games” and Naidoo’s rel­a­tives were quoted agree­ing with the judge.

The judge said that al­though he did not say this, what was pub­lished had come to the at­ten­tion of Sab­badu and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity who might re­gard it as the truth. He there­fore found that the per­cep­tion of bias it cre­ated made it nec­es­sary for him to re­cuse him­self and for the case to be tried be­fore a dif­fer­ent judge.

In­stead of a new trial, how­ever, the case was yes­ter­day with­drawn against Sab­badu.

It had been al­leged in the state’s in­dict­ment that Sab­badu and Naidoo had a “tu­mul­tuous” re­la­tion­ship.

It was al­leged that prior to the in­ci­dent, Sab­badu de­cided to rape and kill her and al­legedly pro­cured the as­sis­tance of four friends.

Af­ter lur­ing her to a se­cluded spot, Sab­badu and his com­pan­ions al­legedly as­saulted her. It was al­leged two men had raped the vic­tim who was there­after stabbed and throt­tled.

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