‘Recovered gun shot doc’

2015-08-27 09:05
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A POLICE ballistics expert gave detailed evidence yesterday about why he concluded that a bullet head retrieved from the body of murdered doctor Bhavish Sewram, and three spent cartridges from the crime scene, were all fired from a semi-automatic pistol recovered from one of the two accused on trial for the shooting.

Warrant Officer Izak van Straten, a forensic analyst stationed at the ballistics unit at Amanzimtoti, gave evidence yesterday at the trial of former policeman Brian Treasurer and Mfaniseni Nxumalo, who are charged with involvement in Sewram’s murder on the night of May 13, 2013. The state alleges that

Treasurer hired Nxumalo to find someone who was prepared to shoot Sewram at the behest of a local businessman, Rajivee Soni, who suspected the doctor of having an affair with his wife.

With Nxumalo’s help, Treasurer allegedly enlisted the gunman, Sabelo Dlamini, to shoot Sewram and provided him with the firearm used.

All three men allegedly drove to the vicinity of the murder scene on the night in question and Dlamini shot and killed the doctor outside his surgery.

The alleged murder weapon was admittedly found by police in Nxumalo’s possession when he was arrested at his home in Mason informal settlement in Copesville on June 30, 2013.

The defence has however disputed the correctness of the ballistics evidence linking the pistol to the murder.

Treasurer’s attorney, Bob Bahadur, has suggested to witnesses involved in processing the ballistics evidence that sealed bags containing the exhibits that were sent to the ballistics unit for testing might have been tampered with.

Guided by private ballistics expert Kobus Steyl, he also closely questioned Van Straten yesterday about his conclusions that the bullet head and cartridges from the crime scene were positively linked to the firearm found at Nxumalo’s home.

Van Straten handed in a “court chart” showing photographs detailing the microscopic comparisons between bullets he’d fired as “tests” and the exhibits he was given to examine, and confirmed his conclusions. He said he had prepared the chart in August this year at the request of state advocate

Johan du Toit, after it emerged that he would be required to give evidence.

Van Straten said when he conducted the tests in 2013 his conclusions were confirmed by another senior analyst.

In his plea at the start of the trial Nxumalo admitted that the firearm concerned was found at his home at the time of his arrest, but alleged in his statement that the firearm belonged to Treasurer.

He alleged the pistol “fell” out of a bag of money given to him by Treasurer as payment for painting work he did at a crèche. He said despite asking Treasurer to fetch the firearm, he did not do so.

Nxumalo also alleged that he saw Treasurer hand a firearm to Sabelo Dlamini the night that Sewram was shot dead. Treasurer has denied being involved in any way in Sewram’s murder, and says he knows nothing about the firearm in question.

The trial is proceeding today.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court

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