Convicted wife killer loses bid for freedom

2016-02-25 09:02
(File, iStock)

(File, iStock)

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Pietermaritzburg - The High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday dismissed an application by a wife killer to have his conviction and sentence set aside.

Rajiv Sewnarain submitted that he pleaded guilty on December 22, 2010 to the murder, when he was not in his sound sober senses. He claimed he had taken medicine that made him tired, drowsy, and unfit to stand trial. 

His mental state was compromised as he was grieving the death of his wife Shanaaz.  The police had assaulted and interrogated him. His rights had not been explained to him and he was not told he could apply for bail.

He had experienced survivor’s guilt and saw other arrested persons being assaulted, he said.

Sewnarain had said he and Shanaaz were hijacked when they were returning home to Jacobs, Durban, on December 10, 2010.  She was shot in the head and twice in the chest. He was shot in the left shoulder.

From questions police asked him at the time, he realised they suspected him of killing Shanaaz. He testified that because his family suspected him of being the killer, and because they did not support him, he pleaded guilty to make them happy.

He agreed to confess to hiring hitmen to stage a hijacking.

In the Regional Court, Magistrate Sharon Marks told him that he would be jailed for life unless there were substantial and compelling circumstances for her to deviate from this sentence.

On Wednesday, Judge D Pillay said Sewnarain had had ample opportunity before and after he was arrested to change his mind about pleading guilty. He maintained his guilty plea on the advice of legal and family counsel, believing it to be in his interests.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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