Judge says Sewnarain’s new plea makes no sense

2016-02-17 10:03


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Pietermaritzburg - The man who pleaded guilty to murdering his wife in a staged hijacking in Durban in 2010, testified yesterday that he felt guilty that she saved his life in a previous similar incident but he “couldn’t save her”.

KZN Judge President Achmat Jappie and Judge Daya Pillay said the court did not want to hear details of the alleged previous hijacking incident.

Under cross-examination by state advocate Attie Truter yesterday, Rajiv Sewnarain (48) nevertheless repeatedly mentioned that “she saved me and I could not save her”.

Sewnarain now alleges he was not in his “right mind” when he pleaded guilty to murdering his wife, Shanaaz, by hiring hitmen to stage a hijacking on December 10, 2010. He was wounded in the same incident.

Sewnarain was questioned by Judge Pillay about his evidence that when he told his family he would admit to the killing on December 20, 2010, he did so because he thought it would “make them happy”.

Judge Pillay said could “not understand” how confessing to “something so horrible” could make his family happy. “It just doesn’t make sense to me, I’m sorry,” she said.

Sewnarain testified that the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Viresh Panday, had “painted a bad picture” of him and that it seemed to make his family suspicious of him.

When his brother, Raj, told him what Panday said at the office of attorney Manoj Maharaj (Raj’s friend) in Umhlanga on December 20, and asked if he killed his wife, he said no.

“However he then told them “f*** you” and walked away. He then decided he would plead guilty “so everyone will be happy”.

“I was angry because no one was believing me,” he said.

Sewnarain was handed over to police and alleges that after he was assaulted he made a confession before a magistrate. However the details are sketchy.

Two days later (on December 22, 2010) he pleaded guilty in court and was sentenced to life imprisonment by Durban regional magistrate Sharon Marks, but also said he has little memory of it.

He recalled meeting with an attorney, Devin Moodley, and signing some papers but said he had no memory of allegedly writing a hand-written statement or signing it.

He said could not even recall if the magistrate was male or female. “I only remember saying ‘yes’,” he said.

He said it “never hit him” that he was going to prison for life and it only dawned on him that he made a mistake by pleading guilty when he was innocent a month later after he spoke to other inmates.

The case is proceeding.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime  |  court

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