Treasurer’s bid for acquittal dismissed

2015-09-06 08:33
Brian Treasurer

Brian Treasurer (File)

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FORMER policeman and doctor murder accused Brian Treasurer failed in his bid for an early acquittal yesterday.

Judge Anton van Zyl dismissed legal arguments presented on Treasurer’s behalf by his attorney, Bob Bahadur, and ruled that Treasurer does have a case to defend.

He therefore refused to grant him a discharge at the end of the state’s case.

Treasurer and his co-accused Mfaniseni Nxumalo are charged with murdering medical doctor Bhavish Sewram in Pietermaritzburg for reward on May 13, 2013.

Hitman Sabelo Dlamini, who is already serving 25 years in prison for the killing, testified for the state at their trial.

Yesterday Bahadur tried to persuade the judge that Dlamini’s evidence was “poor” and that it is in conflict with the state’s version concerning the alleged motive for the killing.

He said that according to Dlamini he was “hired” by Nxumalo to shoot Sewram because the doctor failed to pay him for cutting grass for him. He said once the prosecution accepted this as “fact” when Dlamini pleaded guilty in March last year, it was bound by it.

He said the state has not presented any evidence to back up its allegations that Pietermaritzburg businessman Rajivee Soni was the person who instigated the murder, and hired Treasurer to find the killers to carry out the plan.

“There is no evidence of a common purpose between Soni and Treasurer,” said Bahadur.

State advocate Johan du Toit responded that just because the state did not prove the involvement of one of the four people allegedly involved in the conspiracy to kill the doctor, this did not mean the others could not be convicted.

He said there was “more than enough” direct evidence implicating Treasurer in the offence.

This included Dlamini’s evidence that Treasurer drove him and Nxumalo to and from the murder scene, that he cocked and handed him the gun he used to shoot the doctor and that he paid him R12 000 after the shooting.

While admitting that Dlamini is an accomplice whose evidence must be treated cautiously, and that there were “some contradictions” in his evidence, Du Toit said he was “not so bad” that the court can’t consider his evidence.

Du Toit added there is evidence by Pastor Thamsanqa Mkhize (that Treasurer drove Nxumalo and Dlamini to an Nyanga for “cleansing” after the murder), and CCTV footage of Treasurer’s movements in the parking lot of Fusion Lounge where he allegedly waited for Nxumalo and Dlamini and then picked them up after the shooting. He also pointed out that in their pleas at the start of the case Nxumalo and Treasurer “pointed fingers at each other”.

Dismissing Treasurer’s application, Judge Van Zyl said the law provides for an accused to be acquitted at the close of the state’s case if a court is of the opinion that there is no evidence that he committed the offence, and that there is no possibility of a conviction unless the accused takes the witness stand and implicates himself.

The credibility of witnesses at this stage only plays a role in “exceptional circumstances” where their evidence was so poor it simply had to be disregarded. That was not the case here, he said. Taken at “face value” Dlamini’s evidence implicated Treasurer in a conspiracy to murder the doctor.

The judge emphasised that the legal test at this stage was different from that to be applied at the end of the case.

“At this stage it is simply where there is evidence on which a court might, not would, convict. At the end of the case the court looks at whether or not the state has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.

Advocate Di Franklin said Nxumalo will testify in his defence on Monday

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  murder  |  court

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