'It's not long enough'

2011-05-18 00:00

THE family of murder victim Sandesh Pooran, who was strangled to death by his former lover Kalisha Rajcoomar and her husband Amith Sewkarran on February 7, 2009, were “deeply disappointed” with the sentences of 18 years’ and 14 years’ imprisonment respectively imposed by high court Judge Piet Koen yesterday.

The judge found that Rajcoomar “manipulated the emotions of the men she shared relationships with” and continued to vacillate between Pooran and Sewkarran, the resultant love triangle ending in tragedy.

He said it was clear Rajcoomar was frustrated and unable to tolerate rejection and the fact that Pooran would not commit to her and their child and marry her. It was also clear she married Sewkarran for convenience while still in love with Pooran and that Sewkarran was so “infatuated” by her that he would do anything for her and to this day loves her and harbours thoughts that they will be together.

Having regard to Rajcoomar’s personality, he said he had no doubt that if she had elected not to proceed with the murder, Sewkarran would have followed suit.

The judge accepted that Pooran “made a nuisance” of himself in the lives of Rajcoomar and Sewkarran (even though he didn’t want to commit to her) and abused and harassed them physically and emotionally, as evidenced by the fact that three protection orders were obtained against him.

The judge said, however, when Rajcoomar had the opportunity to enforce a protection order and have Pooran arrested shortly before the murder for an alleged violation, she chose not to do so.

“If she had we might not be sitting here today,” the judge said.

He also rejected Rajcoomar’s “bizarre” explanation that she led Pooran on by calling him and declaring her love for him while she was married to Sewkarran only because she thought this would make him leave Sewkarran alone.

The judge said the couple did not explore all other alternatives before deciding to murder Pooran and although the murder itself might have been carried out in an “amateurish” way, the planning was “cold and calculated” and they had time to reflect. Afterwards they cleaned up the crime scene and burned the body.

He further agreed with state advocate Gert Nel that strangulation was a “cruel” way of killing.

Judge Koen rejected evidence that Rajcoomar was “helpless” or could be described as a victim of “battered women’s syndrome”.

Instead he found she was “intelligent, a go-getter, and manipulative”.

Koen said in his view Sewkarran deserved a lesser sentence than Rajcoomar because he was under her influence and was “to some extent a victim of circumstances” forced on him and manipulated by her.

Pooran’s family stood in a small group, silent and depressed, after sentencing and his father, Hans, said his only comment was the sentences were “much too light”.

He regarded life as the only just sentence, he said.

The judge said earlier that if Pooran’s family wished only to pursue retribution for his death no court would be able to satisfy them. He expressed hope that sentencing would bring them closure.

By contrast, Rajcoomar and Sewkarran’s families and supporters were happy the couple did not get life imprisonment.

Crying, they hugged and kissed the couple in the dock, declaring their love for them before they were led away to serve their sentences. Sewkarran also took the chance to quickly plant a kiss on Rajcoomar’s cheek.

He handed his mother, Cookie, several letters, one of which she said was addressed to Pooran’s sister, Varsha, apologising for what Sewkarran did.

Cookie Sewkarran approached Pooran’s grieving father in the court foyer and offered her own apology to him for her son’s conduct, which he accepted.

“I feel a lot better now,” she added.

In a written note handed to The Witness, Rajcoomar’s mother, Jayshree David, stated: “The only person I feel sympathy for is for my child, Kalisha. She has been degraded and humiliated but she has our undying support. Sandesh knows that his baby will be given the best by us. My husband and I will take the best care of [her], that’s our pledge to her.”

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