Siam Lee’s alleged killer accuses private eye of torture during arrest

08 March 2018 - 06:00 By Jeff Wicks
Siam Lee. File photo.
Siam Lee. File photo.
Image: via Facebook

The state’s prime suspect in the disappearance and murder of Siam Lee has pinned his hopes for bail on what his lawyers described as the “capture” of the investigation by prominent Durban private investigator Brad Nathanson.

The 29-year-old businessman faces sixteen charges‚ among them one of rape‚ and as such cannot be named.

He testified on Wednesday in support of his bail application that he had been brutally tortured at the hands of Nathanson‚ his staff and the police. 

The endgame‚ Advocate Martin Krog submitted‚ was to prove that the state’s case would be so substantially weakened because of Nathanson’s hidden hand that there would be no way his client would try and evade his trial.

Krog had fired a salvo at Nathanson and his staff‚ alleging that during the course of his arrest in the absence of police‚ he had been tortured and Nathanson and his “acolytes” conducted unlawful searches of his client’s Shongweni home.

"Our position will be‚ and I will attempt to show‚ that the whole investigation was captured by civilians. When I speak about civilians I am talking about Brad Nathanson‚” he said.

“If the state is hinging their case on a confession made to Mr Nathanson then I would contest that their case is weak because a confession made under these circumstances would be excluded as it is inadmissible‚” Krog added. The direction of the evidence‚ and the footing of the defence’s case during the trial‚ is that the man’s arrest by a civilian - and all the evidence gathered through what they held was an illegal search - could be excluded as inadmissible.

Magistrate Mohamed Motala‚ while allowing Krog to lead evidence on Nathanson’s involvement‚ would not be drawn to pronounce.

“This is not the trial so I cannot make declarations on the validity of evidence‚ so don’t go overboard‚” he said.

The suspect pieced together the hours from the time that Nathanson arrested him at his home until the point he was taken to the police station‚ detailing sporadic torture‚ beatings and “tubing”. Tubing refers to the practice of suffocating someone using a plastic bag or inner tube to elicit information.

The man said that on the day he was arrested he had arrived at his Assagay home to find that his car‚ which had been parked in the garage‚ was missing.

"I was walking toward it [the garage] when I noticed that the black Mercedes was not there. I also noticed that an entire window panel of the garage had been ripped off‚” he said.

As he moved to retrieve his cell phone from his car‚ a vehicle pulled into his driveway.

"A white gentleman with tattoos got out‚ I know now that he is Brad Nathanson. He pointed a gun at me and swore at me as he ordered me to open the gate. They told me that I had murdered Siam Lee‚ to which I responded that I had never murdered anyone."

Handcuffed and prostrate on the floor‚ the man claimed he was beaten by Nathanson and his employee‚ Shane Brits.

"They were punching me and kicking me‚ both Brits and Nathanson‚ and I was screaming in pain. One of my neighbours came running with her daughter and tried to intervene‚” he said.

He elaborated that his ordeal had continued after police arrived at the scene.

“The IO [investigating officer] said to that I had two choices‚ either to leave my house having confessed‚ or leave it in a body bag‚” he said. “He told one of the officers to go and fetch an evidence bag‚ clear ones with the police emblem. They took a plastic bag and put it over my face and they suffocated me.” Krog closed his case on Wednesday afternoon‚ the state expected to cross examine the accused on Thursday when the bail application continues.