Trial of two accused in ‘Rambo of PE’ murder gets under way

Family and friends of Malabar businessman Naeem Desai carry his coffin for burial at the Malabar cemetery. Picture: Eugene Coetzee

It will be full steam ahead for prosecutors today when the trial of two men accused of killing “the Rambo of Port Elizabeth” starts.

The prosecution yesterday asked the Port Elizabeth High Court for a day’s postponement so they could amend their submissions to the court.

Before the postponement was requested, Deswin Kleinbooi, 22, and Eston Afrikaner, 19, pleaded not guilty.

They face four charges including murder, robbery with aggravated circumstances and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

The pair are accused of the 2016 shooting murder of businessman and northern areas crime fighter Naeem Desai, 47.

Desai was shot dead early on May 12 2016 as he waited in his Jadeed’s Bread delivery van outside a Helenvale spaza shop.

The state alleges that Desai was shot in the head after he was spotted driving in Pritchard Street, Helenvale, before stopping outside a blue container spaza in Renecke Street.

In court documents, it is alleged that Kleinbooi and Afrikaner formed a prior arrangement to rob Desai before he was killed.

Desai died of a gunshot wound to the head.

After shooting Desai, his assailants made off with his Samsung cellphone and an undisclosed amount of money.

It was reported later that less than 24 hours before he was gunned down, Desai had told his brother, Hassen, that he did not feel safe.

More than 500 people, including high-ranking police and community policing members from across the city, attended Desai’s funeral at Malabar’s Darul Uloom Mosque.

Desai’s death set off calls for the relaunch of People Against Drugs and Violence, which in the 1990s clamped down on gangsterism.

Desai, whose family owned several businesses in the Bay, was a member of the Malabar Community Policing Forum, Neighbourhood Watch and a community-based non-profit organisation, Malabar Patrols, which started in 2012.

When Desai was killed, a post on the Malabar Patrols Facebook page said: “Malabar Patrols is extremely sad to tell you that we have lost one of our bravest warriors.

“A fearless man. A true hero. Always there for everybody. He was the Rambo of PE.”

The trial continues today.

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