False charges: cop fingered

2015-03-06 00:00

A SENIOR Pietermaritzburg policeman is accused of playing a major “behind-the-scenes” role in an alleged plot by businessman Rajivee Soni to falsely charge his love rival, the murdered Dr Bhavish Sewram, with sexual assault.

Fingered in court as Soni’s “contact” is a policeman identified only as “Captain Haffajee”.

State witness Sugen Naidoo, who testified that he had helped Soni orchestrate the plot, said Soni usually referred to the officer as “my contact”.

However, Soni revealed Haffajee’s name when they discussed arrangements for Msunduzi fireman Zaheer Khan and his stepdaughter Sonali to open a false case at the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit (FCS).

Soni had explained that Haffajee would “assist them” at the FCS and asked Naidoo to give them a brief description of the captain, Naidoo said.

Naidoo testified that the Khans agreed to go along with the plan to falsely charge Sewram “for reward”.

Soni wanted Sonali Khan to visit Sewram as a patient. There were cameras in the surgery and, after she was examined by the doctor, she should “become hysterical and run out of the surgery”.

Soni had said his “contact” would first ensure the statement given to the FCS to charge Sewram was “of good quality” before he paid any money.

The businessman offered to pay R20 000 when the doctor was charged and arrested, plus R2 500 each to father and daughter every time Sewram appeared in court.

Soni honoured his promise and Naidoo handed Zaheer Khan amounts of R20 000 and R5 000, which he got from Soni after the doctor was arrested and appeared in court.

Naidoo said Soni was “ecstatic” when Sewram was arrested, but became frustrated when Sewram’s name was not published because the doctor’s lawyer arranged for his case to be held in-camera.

Naidoo said the policewoman appointed as the investigating officer did not know the complaint was false.

After Sewram appeared in court, the hard drive of the CCTV at his surgery was seized. The footage was supposed to show the victim was “frantic and rushed out of the surgery”.

“But when the footage was viewed, it showed a totally different version of events,” said Naidoo.

He said Soni had called him and said he had a copy of the disc, which needed to be shown to the Khans.

Naidoo did not know where Soni had obtained the disc and “didn’t question” but assumed his “contact” had given it to him.

When discussing the “blunder” with Soni, Naidoo suggested that an attorney be appointed to represent the Khans.

Soni thought this a “brilliant idea” and later informed him that his contact had arranged for an attorney to represent them at a cost of R10 000.

Naidoo said when he and Soni were at gym, the businessman told him he had to withdraw money to pay the attorney. “He said he was going to meet his contact, Captain Haffajee, and hand over the money so the attorney could be paid,” he said.

Naidoo testified that he and Soni met with Zaheer Khan, his wife and daughter, when Soni “reminded them that if they make this case stick [against Sewram], they will be rich people who will never have to work again”.

Soni also warned that if it ever came to light that they had laid a false charge, they would “lose everything”.

Naidoo told the court that at his suggestion Soni gave Khan “R3 000 to R5 000” to arrange for protesters outside court when Sewram appeared.

Soni “dictated the captions” and Naidoo wrote the posters, he said.

Naidoo also alleged that Soni told him that he had paid Captain Haffajee “R20 000 or R30 000” to get the press and photographers to court for Sewram’s appearance.

Soni was “absolutely furious” when the case was ultimately withdrawn.

“He started blaming everybody, including his contact, Captain Haffajee. By now the accused [Soni] had already spent a vast amount of money and he had got no result out of it,” Naidoo said.

The case is proceeding.

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