‘I’m not lying about Soni’

2015-10-10 09:41
Soni trial witness Hoosen Shaik-Cassim.

Soni trial witness Hoosen Shaik-Cassim. (Ian carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg - “If I am a drug-dealing kingpin, then I must be the poorest kingpin in the world.”

This was the response by state witness Hoosen Shaik-Cassim under cross-examination by the defence on Friday at the trial of Pietermaritzburg businessman Rajivee Soni, who is charged with the murder of his alleged love rival Dr Bhavish Sewram in May 2013.

Shaik-Cassim told the court that Soni had asked him if he could find “guys to break the doctor’s hands and legs and put the doctor in a wheelchair” in June or July 2012.

Sewram was shot dead by a hired gunman, Sabelo Dlamini, who confessed to the crime.

The state alleges the hit on the doctor was orchestrated by Soni because he suspected Sewram of having an affair with his wife.

On Friday, Shaik-Cassim, who goes on trial later this month on a charge of dealing in cocaine, refused to answer questions concerning any alleged drug-dealing activities and invoked his right not to incriminate himself in a pending case.

He said he would not comment on former state witness Sugen Naidoo’s description of him as his “drug-dealer brother-in-law”.

At one stage, however, he burst out: “I am a human being and sometimes people make mistakes … they can change.”

Shaik-Cassim told Judge Jacqueline Henriques and assessor Gerhard Barnard that his testimony that Soni had asked him to hire people to break Sewram’s legs and hands was the truth.

“I have no reason to lie. Why would I pick on one person [Soni] and lie about him?” he asked Naren Sangham, Soni’s lawyer.

He passionately denied a suggestion that there was interference in his statement by the police investigating officer in Soni’s case.

“Nobody asked me to lie. Nobody told me what to say. What I have said is the truth,” he repeatedly told the court.

Sangham said Soni would deny the incident “ever happened” and that the story was a “fabrication” by Shaik-Cassim and Naidoo.

Sangham said Soni’s version is that he met Shaik-Cassim for the first time at a birthday party for Sugen Naidoo’s twin girls at Truro Hall in September 2012.

Soni alleges Shaik-Cassim later asked to rent premises from him, offering to pay an exorbitant sum of R20 000 per month.

Shaik-Cassim told Soni that his “cocaine enterprise” covered all northern areas except Mountain Rise, and that he wanted to draw in the “rich Muslim kids in Mountain Rise”, said Sangham.

“When the accused [Soni] refused, you became aggressive … he had to get security to remove you,” said Sangham.
Shaik-Cassim denied this.

Sangham questioned Shaik-Cassim in detail about differences between his and Sugen Naidoo’s evidence concerning the alleged plan to assault the doctor.

He was also questioned about a previous conviction for dealing in cocaine in 2013, and the fact that his wife had laid a charge of assault and got a protection order against him in 2014.

Shaik-Cassim admitted this had happened but said they were “arguing” at the time. “It is personal … husbands and wives argue, but everything is fine between us now,” he said.

On Monday, the prosecution hopes to lead evidence about another alleged plot to lay a false sexual assault charge against Sewram, the court was told.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court  |  soni

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