Soni brands Naidoo a liar

2017-08-02 13:45
Businessman Rajivee Soni (41).

Businessman Rajivee Soni (41). (File)

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Businessman Rajivee Soni (41), currently defending himself on a charge of masterminding the 2013 murder of doctor Bhavish Sewram, has painted key state witness and self-confessed “corrupt cop” Sugen Naidoo as a liar.

Soni told Judge Jacqueline Henriques and assessor Gerhard Barnard that he was shocked by Naidoo’s claim that the two of them were “close friends” and had known each other for some 24 years.

“I was a friend of his [Sugen’s] wife, Chantal, not him,” said Soni.

He testified that Naidoo’s testimony that he had discussed his marital problems with him and that they had “brainstormed” ways of “making the doctor’s life a living hell” because of his alleged affair with Soni’s wife, Kerusha, was all lies.

He said they never visited each other’s houses and neither did they ever socialise with one another.

However, Soni testified that he had known Naidoo’s wife, Chantal — who held a senior rank at Mountain Rise police station — from childhood and that they were good friends.

He said he believes he confided to her (Chantal) the difficulties he had in his marriage to Kerusha after he discovered a “secret phone” that she was using to communicate with Sewram, on December 26, 2011.

Soni said Chantal Naidoo was at the time trying to assist him with his negotiations to persuade the SAPS Family Violence and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) from Willowton Road to move to a building owned by him. He said the deal, which eventually fell through, was important to him and led to frequent communication between them.

He said he had been “shocked” when it was suggested by the state during arguments in connection with his application for a discharge last year that cellphone records revealed 485 phone calls between him and Sugen Naidoo.

“I know I never would have phoned Sugen 485 times,” he said.

He said after examining the subpoenas for the phone records he realised that the number concerned was the one he used to communicate with Chantal Naidoo and not her husband.

Soni said nothing Sugen Naidoo told the court about him and his alleged desire to get vengeance on Sewram was true.

This included his allegations that he (Sugen Naidoo) and Soni discussed plans to plant drugs and firearms in the doctor’s surgery, and have him arrested on false charges.

Soni also told the court on Tuesday he “knows nothing whatsoever” about any plan to kill Sewram and said he had absolutely nothing to do with his murder on May 13, 2013.

He said he had never met the two hired hitmen (Mfaniseni Wiseman Nxumalo and Sabelo Dlamini) responsible for shooting the doctor outside his Chota Motala Road surgery and said ex-police officer Brian Treasurer was merely an “acquaintance”.

He had never discussed plans with Sugen Naidoo to the effect that he made “any offer” ranging from R80 000 to R150 000 to Treasurer to kill Sewram, said Soni. He said by the time the doctor was murdered they had resolved their differences and he said he no longer held any grudge against Sewram at that time over his previous untoward relationship with his wife.

Soni told the court about a “peace” meeting between him and the doctor around October 2012 when they “shook hands and hugged” and decided to put the matter behind them.

He said thereafter he had met Sewram at functions held by friends and they “greeted each other”. He also had nothing against Sewram’s wife, Yuvadia. Soni said his wife, Kerusha, did not attend the so-called “peace” meeting, because she and Yuvadia could not get along after the alleged affair between Kerusha and Sewram was revealed.

He also admitted his wife did not accompany him and their daughter on a pre-arranged trip to Egypt in December 2012, but said this was only because he could not get flights for her, “not because she did not want to come”.

Soni said he and Kerusha had started to reconcile from around August 2012 and got back together in January 2013, and their second child, a son, was born in December 2013. Since then, Soni said the strain of his trial starting in 2015 had caused them to separate. “We decided to live apart,” he said.

The trial is proceeding.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  soni murder trial

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