The High Court of South Africa: Western Cape Division has sentenced Abdul Salam, to 25 years imprisonment for the murder of his wife after he viciously stabbed her while she was sitting in the driver’s seat of her car and in front of one of their minor children. In its sentence judgment, the court remarked that despite convictions and sentences, gender-based violence and femicide were ongoing and it was the court’s view that long-term imprisonment was an appropriate sentence. State Adv Rene Uys charged the 41-year-old Bangladeshi national with premeditated murder and argued that he unlawfully and intentionally killed his wife, Miche Samuels, and needed to be sentenced to life imprisonment. She argued that the murder was premeditated but the court only convicted him of murder.

The court heard that the couple’s marriage was characterised by arguments which led to violence. On the day, 4 March 2021, the couple visited the Wynberg Police Station to seek counselling from the police on their disputes. They left after consulting with a police officer, but the wife abruptly stopped the vehicle in Ottery Road, Wynberg, leading to a minor accident. The accused argued that he felt threatened by the deceased, and he had earlier seen a knife in her bag. After observing the knife, he immediately put it to her that she wanted to kill him. He claimed not to remember the argument between him and the deceased, that he remembered her pushing his hand away and then he unbuckled his seat belt. He could not remember what happened in between, then he recalled the child crying and tyres screeching and him exiting the vehicle with the knife. He realised after the fact that he must have stabbed the deceased, but he did not remember doing so and always denied stabbing the deceased.

Countering his defence, Adv Uys argued the accused already pre-meditated the murder and knew that he was going to use that knife to attack her. He took advantage of the fact that she was vulnerable while driving the vehicle. He admitted that he had the bag while waiting outside in Wynberg, so although the State could not dispute who put the knife in the bag, it could also be accepted that the accused knew the knife was in the bag at that point already. In his version, he would have had to turn to the back of the vehicle, take the bag, take the knife out of the bag, and then proceed to stab the deceased.

The State submitted that the accused did not take hours or a long period to pre-meditate the murder. He didn’t act in the spur of the moment. All the evidence points to the accused acting in a pre-meditated fashion. The factual matrix of his conduct made it very clear that he always acted with premeditation. His conduct was goal-directed when he murdered the deceased, and five stab wounds all of which were fatal are not the conduct of a person acting. His feeble attempts at multiple defences do not amount to a valid defence in law and subsequently must not be accepted by the honourable court. Despite her strong arguments for premeditated murder, the court only convicted Salam of murder.

The court found he was not prone to violence and had no previous cases or convictions, but it was of the view that long-term imprisonment was appropriate. The court found it was not a case where the accused needed to be moved out of society forever.

Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Nicolette Bell, welcomed the sentence and committed the NPA to continue its fight against gender-based violence and femicide as they persist being an albatross around the communities’ neck.

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