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Inquest into Deedat deaths in house fire almost completed

Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, cross-examined another fire expert on 15 and 16 February 2021 in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court in the case of the deaths of Suraya Deedat and her four children in 2011. 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.

Anina Burger, a fire expert at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) 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 the claim should be paid out. Her report subsequently supported the settlement of the claim. Despite this, she now also delivered expert testimony on behalf of Naheem on what happened on the night of the fire.

Adv. Nel’s cross-examination of Burger indicated that the insurance report potentially contained some potential prejudices and that some of the witnesses’ versions were modified to support the person of interest’s version of that evening. During cross-examination it also appeared that Burger’s report contained selective information and could therefore not be considered as objective.

The inquest will resume on 29 June to 1 July 2021 when Burger’s cross-examination will continue.

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