Soni recording was ‘susceptible to contamination’

2015-11-05 12:03
Rajivee Soni at court.

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

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Pietermaritzburg - The cellphone on which a state witness in Rajivee Soni’s murder trial allegedly made a video recording became “susceptible to contamination” merely by being switched on.

This was the suggestion put by Soni’s defence lawyer Naren Sangham to the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Yoga Naidoo, yesterday.

Naidoo testified that after being told about the existence of the video recording featuring Soni in May 2013, he had accompanied state witness Professor Sithebe to Cash Crusaders to retrieve the phone and video. This was in connection with his investigation into the murder of Pietermaritzburg doctor Bhavish Sewram on May 13, 2013, and the allegation by Sithebe that Soni had offered to pay him R100 000 to kill the doctor earlier that year.

Sithebe testified that he pawned his cellphone, with the SD memory card on which the video was recorded, still in the phone.

Naidoo said the phone, and its battery, were in a plastic bag in a safe.

After retrieving the phone he asked Sithebe to turn it on and show him the video. This Sithebe did in the parking lot.

Afterwards, Naidoo said the phone was switched off and he subsequently sealed it inside forensic bags and handed it over on the same day to an expert, Colonel Freitag of the cyber crimes unit, for analysis.

Naidoo was subjected to lengthy cross examination concerning his exact movements after fetching the phone. At one stage, Sangham asked Naidoo why he had decided to view the video before handing it over to the cyber crimes expert.

Naidoo said he wanted to see the video clip for himself and to establish that the recording that required analysis was indeed on the phone.

Asked by Sangham if he was aware that “merely turning on the phone made it susceptible to contamination” he replied that he did not.

Sangham said this was because the phone was then connected to a network and able to receive information from outside.

Naidoo was also questioned about the fact that the Sim card in the phone was apparently changed on the same night that Naidoo retrieved the phone via what is known as a “Sim swap”.

Naidoo said he was unaware of it.

The case is proceeding.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  murder  |  court  |  soni

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