Guilty verdict for city couple

2009-10-28 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG couple Kalisha Rajcoomar (23) and Amith Sewkarran (26) were convicted yesterday of the premeditated murder of Rajcoomar’s former lover, Sandesh Poorun, in February by strangling him and burning his body.

In statements handed to Judge Pete Koen and an assessor, the husband and wife each suggested it was the other who came up with the idea of the murder.

Sewkarran said their plan was for Rajcoomar to take Poorun to a B&B, The Gables, and feed him alcohol spiked with mandrax, from which they expected him to die.

When she called him, “panicking”, to say that Poorun had left in a taxi to go and buy more alcohol because the spiked brandy “tasted funny”, Sewkarran said, he had thought the plan was off. They did not have a “plan B”, he said.

It was when she called again and said Poorun had passed out and that this was their only chance to “get rid of our problem” that he knew they were going to kill Poorun themselves.

In her statement, Rajcoomar said Sewkarran suggested to her that she get Poorun to a hotel and encourage him to consume excessive alcohol spiked with mandrax, which would make him pass out.

When this happened she was to telephone him and he would come in and kill Poorun. “He informed me that he trained at the gym and his arms were strong,” she said.

The contents of the two statements were not accepted as entirely accurate by state advocate Adele Janse van Vuuren. She said it was impossible for the prosecution to determine which version is truthful on the issues on which the couple differed. However, the statements made it clear they are both guilty of premeditated murder, she said, and she asked the court to find them guilty. Judge Koen did so.

The case was postponed at the request of defence representatives Anand Pillay and Auret van Heerden, who said they need time to prepare to lead evidence in mitigation of sentence and to obtain psychological evaluations of the accused.

Van Heerden, who acts on the instruction of the Legal Aid Board, said Sewkarran cannot afford a psychological assessment and asked the state to do so in the interests of justice.

These issues will be dealt with at the next hearing on November 12.

Sewkarran said in his statement after the murder that he and Rajcoomar were both shocked, but also relieved that Poorun wasn’t going to pose a problem for them anymore. “I was very naive,” he added.

He said that both he and Rajcoomar tried to commit suicide after the incident, and that she had told him she was going to take the blame because she had brought Poorun into his life.

Sewkarran said in his opinion Poorun was “not a very nice person”.

“He was always drunk, rude and abrupt. I would describe him as a very aggressive man who was always looking for a fight.”

Sewkarran and Rajcoomar said Poorun had constantly harrassed her and Sewkarran’s family, resulting in her obtaining a protection order against him on December 30 last year. They claimed the order did not offer them adequate protection.

Sewkarran said he loved and still loves Rajcoomar a lot. “I was and am totally besotted with her and against the advice of others, pursued a relationship with her,” he said.

The couple each described the act of strangling Poorun as he lay sleeping or “passed out” and how he had struggled before he died.

Sewkarran alleges Rajcoomar assisted him by gripping Poorun’s nose and putting her other hand over his mouth so that he couldn’t breathe.

In her statement Rajcoomar said Sewkarran had sat on Poorun’s back and put his arm round his neck. When he (Poorun) awoke and screamed and began to struggle, Sewkarran told her to cover his mouth but she could not get between them, she said.

She said Sewkarran pushed Poorun’s face into a pillow and continued to strangle him “by switching his arms” until he eventually died.

The couple loaded the body into the car, purchased petrol and charcoal and set fire to it at a deserted spot on the Wartburg road.

Sewkarran and Rajcoomar appeared relaxed following their conviction during a brief adjournment in court, and stood in the dock chatting to family and friends.

It was an emotional moment for Rajcoomar when her young daughter — Poorun’s child — was brought to her by family members for a fleeting hug and kiss.

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