High court to decide on Soni’s case this week

2016-12-13 10:13
Businessman Rajivee Soni is on trial for the murder of Dr Bhavish Sewram

Businessman Rajivee Soni is on trial for the murder of Dr Bhavish Sewram (File)

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Murder accused Rajivee Soni will hear on Thursday if the high court will grant him an early discharge on one or more charges facing him, including the murder of Dr Bhavish Sewram.

While defence advocates Christo van Schalkwyk, SC, and Jimmy Howse argue that the evidence presented by the state against Soni is “unreliable” and insufficient to convict him, the prosecution maintains that there is evidence Soni must meet.

State advocate Johan du Toit emphasised the court is not required at this stage of the trial to decide if the prosecution has proved the case “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

“The stage where a court is required to evaluate all the evidence, taking into account all the probabilities and surrounding circumstances has not yet been reached. That stage is when all the evidence has been led,” said Du Toit.

He told Judge Jacqueline Henriques and assessor Gerhard Barnard the “golden thread” running through all the evidence presented by the state was Soni’s motive to murder Dr Bhavish Sewram because he admittedly suspected him of having an affair with his wife.

Du Toit said the state has set out to prove that Soni formed a common purpose with former Mountain Rise policeman Sugen Naidoo and others to commit a series of offences, such as laying false sexual assault charges against the doctor, causing him grievous bodily harm by shooting him with a paintball gun and falsely accusing the doctor of assaulting Soni.

When that didn’t satisfy Soni, he allegedly conspired with Mlungisi Professor Sithebe (who died recently) to murder Sewram; and when that failed, he formed a common purpose with hired hitman Sabelo Dlamini, Wiseman Nxumalo and former policeman Brian Treasurer to murder the doctor.

The murder was carried out May 13, 2013.

Du Toit argued that the court should only acquit Soni at this stage if it can find all the state witnesses were “so poor” their evidence could never be accepted.

If that is not the case then there is evidence against Soni that “cannot be ignored”, he said.

This included the evidence of the two women confirming that the sexual assault charges laid against the doctor were in fact false.

The evidence the state has linking Soni to the murder is Sugen Naidoo’s evidence that Soni wanted to hire Brian Treasurer to kill the doctor; that Soni admitted to Naidoo that there was a “failed attempt”, and the evidence by the gunman who shot the doctor about a cellphone call by Treasurer to Soni’s cellphone after the murder.

Treasurer allegedly left a message stating that the job was done.

Du Toit did not agree with the defence that the evidence of Professor Sithebe — who claimed Soni approached him to kill the doctor a few months before his actual murder — should be excluded entirely from the case just because he had died before he could be further cross examined.

He said Sithebe gave “full” evidence, and the defence was only going to be allowed to ask him “limited” questions.

The defence argued at length that the evidence of the state witnesses was “unreliable”, in particular that of Sugen Naidoo, who is a key witness in relation to all the charges.

Advocate Howse also questioned why the state had failed to call a number of potential witnesses to corroborate Naidoo’s version.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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