Bid for passport refused

2014-09-19 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG businessman Rajivee Soni’s application for his passport to be returned to him was refused by the high court yesterday.

Soni, accused of ordering the murder of prominent city doctor Bhavish Sewram, wanted to travel with his family to India where they will be performing a ritual prayer.

Sewram was shot and killed in front of his Chota Motala Road surgery in May last year. Soni is out on R100 000 bail, which was granted on conditions including that he surrender his passport.

Soni said he had taken a vow in 2006 on the death of his father to perform the ritual, and, as the only son, he is the only person who can do it.

His attorney, Naren Sangham, asked that his passport be returned to him for the period between November 1 and January 6. He said Soni, who has strong emotional, business and family ties in South Africa, is not a flight risk.

Soni is a man of substantial means, with a large fixed assets base and there could be no reasonable prospect of him leaving the country and evading his trial.

However, prosecutor Sandesh Sankar asked why Soni was only telling the court now about a vow made years ago. He said Soni could flee the prosecution if granted the passport, even though he has family and business interests in South Africa.

The judge agreed and refused to give Soni back his passport.

Soni was charged with Sewram’s murder, along with former policeman Brian Treasurer, Mfaniseni Nxumalo and Sabelo Advocate Dlamini, who pleaded guilty and is now serving a 25-year sentence.

Dlamini implicated Nxumalo and Treasurer in his plea statement.

Treasurer and Nxumalo will be tried in February next year, and Soni, whose trial was separated, in March.


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