Cape Town – A scientist from the CSIR has given a rare behind-the-scenes look at how science and technology solved the murder of music legend Taliep Petersen.
Dr Peter Schmitz, principal researcher in among others forensic geoscience looking at cellphone usage when crimes were committed, was roped in by detectives to map out time and space information to corroborate the evidence given by a State witness.
SOLVED: Technology helped solve the murder of one of South Africa’s most beloved musicians, Taliep Petersen. Picture: Sophia Stander
Petersen was killed on December 16, 2006, with a single gun shot through the back of his neck.
His wife Najwa Petersen was found guilty of masterminding the murder.
She was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Schmitz explained that when the police arrived on the crime scene, it looked like a robbery gone wrong.
But on investigation it became clear that it was premeditated murder.
The detectives obtained the cellphone records from Najwa Petersen who was then identified as the prime suspect. The person whom she contacted to arrange the murder (Fahiem Hendricks) later turned State witness. And he identified three more people who were involved in the murder.
The detectives obtained cellphone records from the State witness and the other three suspects.
“They could not determine from the suspects who had pulled the trigger of the fatal shot. The leading detective and the State prosecutor requested the CSIR to analyse and map the communication between the suspects and the State witness using cellphone records. The data shows the date and time of the calls. The co-ordinates of the base stations were used as a geographic reference point to map communication between the suspects and the State witness.
“The lines of communication were that the deceased’s wife only communicated with the State witness who in turn communicated with two of the other suspects. An interesting outcome of this analysis was that the deceased’s wife had a one-way communication with the State witness.
“Using the sequence of the calls and the geographic location of the base stations involved, it was possible to map the communication between the suspects.
“The time and period for the maps was between December 13 and 17, 2006 to indicate the build up to and the aftermath of the murder in terms of the communication,” Schmitz said.
Petersen’s ex-wife Madeegha Anders said she was relieved that the case was solved.
“It was a life taken away for selfish reasons. But I have forgiven her.
“My son Mogamat organised a tribute show in his honour and it brought back so many memories. I miss him so much,” she said.