Cell calls under scrutiny

2015-11-03 10:43
Rajivee Soni at court.

Rajivee Soni at court. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A series of cellphone calls made by the man who alleges he was hired by businessman Rajivee Soni to kill local doctor Bhavish Sewram came under the spotlight in the Pietermaritzburg high court on Monday.

Cellphone records were produced which show that former security company manager Professor Sithebe made a total of 11 cellphone calls to Sewram on February 20, 2013, interspersed with 10 to Soni.

Sithebe told the court he cannot recall exactly what the conversations were about, but said he knows he spoke to “Soni about the doctor, and to the doctor about Soni”.

His evidence was that he did not carry out Soni’s plan to murder Sewram because he was a Christian person. Instead, he tipped off the doctor about the businessman’s plot to have him killed.

Sithebe confirmed that the cellphone calls appeared to have been made on the same day that he says he recorded a video on his cellphone featuring Soni, which he said was taken in the vicinity of Sewram’s surgery.

He said while he cannot remember the date on which he took the video, or made the calls, he accepted that the cellphone records were accurate.

It was also clear to him that the calls were made while he travelled by car, as shown by the fact that the cellphone signal emanated from several different towers including West Street, Pietermaritz Street, Wembley, Northdale and Mountain Rise.

Sithebe said he relied on the date that appeared on the video recording on his cellphone to determine the date when he made it.

He confirmed his testimony that he made the video while being transported by Soni to “point out where the doctor’s surgeries were”.

Asked whether the video was taken before he first met the doctor, Sithebe replied, “I am not sure. Soni did not only transport me to the doctor’s surgery on one occasion … I think it could well be that I had already spoken to the doctor.”

He said he only spoke to Sewram “face to face” on one occasion to warn him about the murder plan. He also escorted the doctor home that day.

After that he had communicated with him via cellphone.

They had discussed at which police station it would be safe for them to report the plot, as Soni was “well connected” at local police stations.

The video, which was viewed by the court recently, shows Soni in the car with another person and refers to a person being shot in the leg. It does not mention Sewram by name, or a plot to murder him.

The defence, which has three technical experts in court ready to testify in connection with the recording, has indicated that it will dispute the context in which the video was made, and Naren Sangham said if called on to do so, Soni “will give an explanation” for the recording.

He suggested to Sithebe during cross-examination that the times when the cellphone calls were made clashed with the time the video was allegedly recorded. However, Sithebe said the video was made between two phone calls.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court  |  soni

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