Twist in murder trial

2014-09-16 00:00

THE eagerly awaited murder trial of former policeman Brian Treasurer and a co-accused will only get under way next year after Judge Fikile Mokgohloa recused herself and granted an application for the recusal of the prosecutor in the matter yesterday.

Treasurer and Mfaniseni Wiseman Nxumalo are charged with the murder well-known Pietermaritzburg doctor Bhavish Sewram, who was shot dead in front of his surgery on May 13 last year.

The state alleges the murder was paid for by businessman Rajivee Soni, who suspected Sewram of having an affair with his wife. Soni will be tried separately.

Treasurer’s attorney, Pradeep Bahadur, applied for state advocate, Sandesh Sankar, be removed from the case because he had consulted with the former policeman while he was in custody awaiting his bail application and first appearance in the district court.

He said when Sankar had handed over a file together with the amended indictment to him, he discovered there was a missing statement. This was from Sabelo Advocate Dlamini, who has already pleaded guilty to a murder charge for his part in Sewram’s death and received a 25-year term.

Bahadur said it became apparent during consultation with Treasurer in preparation for the trial that the investigating officer, Yogan Naidoo, and Sankar had consulted with him. “They unduly influenced Treasurer to make a confession so that he may be released on bail, without any objection to bail from the investigating officer and the state, and thereafter may use him as a section 204 [accomplice] witness,” said Bahadur.

Bahadur said he was instructed to challenge the admissibility of the confession made by Treasurer to a magistrate after he had spoken with Naidoo and Sankar. He had explained to Treasurer that the constitution protected his right to a fair trial, which was comprised.

“In any event, the administration of justice would be brought into disrepute if a prosecutor is allowed to prosecute a case and at the same time be allowed to give evidence against the same accused that he is prosecuting.

“As a result, I am of prima facie view that Sankar cannot be a prosecutor and a witness in the same trial. Therefore he should recuse himself from the case,” said Bahadur.

Sankar refused to recuse himself, saying he would decide on the matter once he had led other evidence. However, Judge Mokgohloa granted Bahadur’s application, adding that she would no longer be able to preside over the matter either. “The bench has been compromised and we are not going to be able to preside,” she said.

The matter will be back in court for trial from February 16 to 27 next year.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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