Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
1 minute read
17 Feb 2021
4:17 pm

Fire expert cross-examined in Deedat deaths inquest

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

Suraya Deedat and her four children died after their house caught fire in 2011, with only her husband Naeem Deedat surviving.

Advocate Gerrie Nel. Picture: Neil McCartney

The inquest into the 2011 deaths of Suraya Deedat and her four children is finally nearing completion in Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court.

This is according to lobby group AfriForum, whose prosecution unit head Gerrie Nel cross-examinated another fire expert on Monday and Tuesday.

The expert was appointed by the legal team of the person of interest in the inquest, Naeem Deedat – Suraya’s husband – and the only family member who survived the house fire.

According to Andrew Leask, senior investigator at AfriForum’s private prosecution unit, Nel’s cross-examination of fire expert at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Anina Burger, indicated that the insurance report contained some potential prejudices.

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It showed, according to Leask, that some of the witnesses’ versions were modified to support Naeem’s version of what took place the night the Deedats’ house caught fire, killing his family while he allegedly escaped though a window.

Burger was appointed in 2011 by an insurance company to compile a report on the cause of the fire, in order for the company to decide whether a claim should be paid out. While her report subsequently supported the settlement of the claim, in the inquest she was giving expert testimony on behalf of Naeem on what happened on the night of the fire.

The inquest is expected to continue on 29 June 2021 until 1 July 2021, when Burger’s cross-examination would continue.

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