There was a new twist in the case against a man accused of murdering Durban escort Siam Lee when a count of rape was added to the seven charges he was already facing.
The 29-year-old businessman‚ who now cannot be named because of the rape charge‚ made his third appearance in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
Clad in a grey coat and matching check pants‚ the bespectacled man blew a kiss to his family in the public gallery and kept on smiling throughout the court proceeding. However‚ he shook his head when he heard that a rape charge had also been added to the raft of charges he is facing – charges which include murder‚ kidnapping‚ robbery‚ and pointing of a firearm.
It is unknown who the victim of the rape charge is.
However, State prosecutor Surekha Marimuthu said that the charges hadn’t yet been finalised. This would be done by the next court appearance.
The accused’s lawyer‚ Rial Mahabeer‚ made a request to magistrate Mahomed Motala that the accused should not be photographed or videoed because of the rape charge and because they did not know the age of the victim. The state also agreed with his lawyers.
Motala ruled that the media was not allowed to take photographs and videos during the court proceeding. He said the media were directed to act within the confines of the law in so far as publication of any material concerning this case is concerned.
“Whilst proceedings are taking place‚ no photographs or videoing shall take place. That’s normal standard procedure. We need to respect that. To enable you to do whatever you need to do‚ I will stand down at the end of my formal attendance to this matter so that you can attend to whatever you need to attend to‚” he said.
His legal team also requested that he be transferred to the Pietermaritzburg New Prison because of the conditions in the Durban North police cells‚ but Motala said that was not within his jurisdiction and that request should be directed to correctional services.
Motala ordered he remain at the police station holding cells.
The accused has previously claimed that he has been harassed‚ assaulted and suffocated with a plastic packet to implicate himself “in something I wasn’t involved with”. He said he had scars all over his body to prove it.
The case was adjourned until Tuesday as a holding date for a bail application. However‚ his lawyers have indicated that they would need two days for the bail application.
Siam’s mother Nan Lee‚ dressed in a conservative ice blue floral dress‚ sat on the edge of her seat tensely waiting to see the man accused of her daughter’s abduction and murder.
The court was packed to capacity on Friday and the audience included DA supporters in their party colours‚ who also waved placards outside calling for a maximum sentence.
The 20-year-old’s body was found on a farm in New Hanover in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands after she went missing from outside a building believed to be a brothel in Durban North.
More than 2,800 people have already signed an online petition calling for “Justice for Siam Lee”‚ demanding that the accused not be granted bail.
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