Doctor ‘beaten over affairs’

2015-03-27 00:00

A SUGGESTION was made yesterday that murdered doctor Bhavish Sewram was accused by his wife and mother-in-law on numerous occasions of engaging in extramarital affairs.

Naren Sangham, the attorney for businessman Rajivee Soni, who is charged with orchestrating Sewram’s 2013 murder, also suggested yesterday that Sewram was “beaten up on a number of occasions by his mother-in-law”.

These final questions to former policeman Sugen Naidoo yesterday drew strenuous objections from state advocate Johan du Toit, but he was over-ruled by the judge after Sangham pointed out that in Soni’s plea the defence indicated that evidence will be led that people other than Soni “harboured motives” to have Sewram killed.

The trial has now adjourned, but dates for the next hearing will only be finalised today.

Sangham asked Naidoo yesterday if he had “heard anything” about Sewram being involved in extramarital affairs with women — apart from the affair the doctor was suspected of having with Soni’s wife.

“If it was suggested to you there were a number of instances where the deceased was accused by his wife and mother-in-law of engaging in extra-marital affairs, can you deny it?” Sangham asked, to which Naidoo replied that he couldn’t.

Naidoo said he knew nothing about Sewram’s relationship with his “in-laws”.

He, however, confirmed that Soni did tell him about a “single incident” when Sewram’s “wife and his mother-in-law” allegedly assaulted the doctor as well as Soni’s wife over their alleged affair.

Sangham yesterday placed on record detailed denials by Soni of all the crimes he is charged with.

Regarding two allegations that Soni was behind false sexual assault cases brought by two different women against Sewram in 2012, Sangham said Soni only heard about these through Naidoo.

He put it to Naidoo that he had “extorted” money from Soni in respect of each of these cases, as well as an assault case registered by Soni against the late doctor.

Naidoo denied he ever extorted Soni and maintained that his evidence — that he and Soni orchestrated the false charges laid by Mariamma Kisten and Sonali Sookraj-Khan to “frame and embarrass” the doctor — was true.

Sangham said Soni alleges that Naidoo came to him in February 2012 and told him his “ doctor friend” was a “real bastard”.

“You said he [the doctor] has no respect for women. You said a lady came into the station and opened a sexual assault case against the doctor … You mentioned that the police officer investigating the case had asked the complainant [victim] for R2 000 to process the docket.”

Naidoo allegedly suggested Soni pay the money to make sure a case was opened. He also subsequently demanded R20 000 from Soni, and threatened that if he didn’t pay, he would “implicate him” in the case.

Similarly, Soni alleges Naidoo had demanded payment of R2 000 from Soni if he wanted him to process the assault charge he laid against Sewram. Soni eventually paid the money because he “wanted justice done”, said Sangham.

Regarding the sexual assault case involving Sookraj-Khan, Sangham said Soni says Naidoo informed him about the case. “He [Soni] expressed surprise at the fact that the doctor had again been charged with sexual assault,” said Sangham.

Sangham said Naidoo then told Soni the investigating officer was “very greedy” and wanted R10 000 from the victim to process the case.

He said Soni had refused to pay Naidoo the R10 000. Subsequently Naidoo arrived at his house “totally out of it” from smoking cocaine and “created a ruckus”. He demanded R20 000, failing which he threatened to have Soni arrested.

“By this stage the accused [Soni] was convinced he was going to be arrested for something he played no part in,” said Sangham.

Soni, his mother and his brother-in-law eventually raised the money, and gave it to Naidoo.

Soni also denied any knowledge of a paintball attack on Sewram, and of his murder.

Sangham said Soni will admit that he knows one of the alleged hitmen, Brian Treasurer — an ex-policeman who had “moonlighted” as a security guard at his father’s nightclub when he was a teenager.

Soni interacted with Treasurer in 2012 when Treasurer bought building materials from him, and he had to phone him when Treasurer failed to pay his instalments. This was their only involvement, he said.

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