Killer gets 25 years for doctor’s murder

2014-03-20 00:00

THOSE who confess their sins should be encouraged to do so, a high court judge said yesterday when he sentenced hired killer Sabelo Dlamini to 25 years in jail for the assassination of doctor Bhavish Sewram.

Dlamini (29) admitted this week that he shot the doctor three times as he was leaving his surgery on the night of May 13 last year, for which he was paid R12 000.

Judge Isaac Madondo found that there were compelling and substantial circumstances which justified the court imposing less than life imprisonment on Dlamini, in spite of finding that it was aggravating that he’d killed the doctor for money.

The judge accepted that Dlamini was used as a pawn by his co-perpetrators whom he identified as being two of his co-accused, Mfaniseni Nxu­malo and Brian Treasurer.

Other mitigating factors included Dlamini’s unconditional apology to the family of the victim, and that he pleaded guilty even though there wasn’t much evidence against him.

State advocate Sandesh Sankar had said the case against Dlamini was circumstantial and that he might have been acquitted had he gone on trial and remained silent.

Sewram’s widow Yuvadia said it made little difference to her whether Dlamini was sentenced to 25 or 50 years in prison. “The thing is that he is alive while my husband is gone.”

She believed that Dlamini’s guilty plea this week might help convict the other alleged killers who have yet to stand trial. She said she believed Dlamini had not told the whole truth, had left a lot out, and watered down what had really happened.

The judge said that Dlamini’s version that Sewram allegedly owed money to Nxumalo was “just a lie”, as he was paid R12 000 after the shooting. It was clear that he was hired to commit the murder, he said.

The judge said it seemed that these days it was “easy” to hire people to kill another person. “There are inyangas there to cleanse them afterwards. In my view these inyangas are thereby encouraging this,” the judge added.

In his guilty plea Dlamini said that he and Nxumalo had gone to an inyanga after Sewram’s murder “for cleansing purposes”. The inyanga had prepared muti for them, for which they paid him R1 200 before returning home.

Judge Madondo accepted submissions by Dlamini’s attorney Eric Zaca that Dlamini was remorseful for his actions and that there was a prospect he could be rehabilitated. He said although people may doubt the genuineness of Dlamini’s apology to the doctor’s family, and the circumstances under which he pleaded guilty, one had to accept that it was genuine.

Zaca also pointed out that Dlamini had consumed alcohol before the shooting and while he could appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions, it did diminish his blameworthiness.

However, Judge Madondo said an aggravating feature that weighed heavily against Dlamini was that he had killed for money. Sewram hadn’t provoked him or wronged him. “He was a young doctor and a productive member of society,” said the judge.

He said the community was deprived of a doctor to assist them when they were ill, the doctor’s parents were deprived of their son, his wife of her husband and provider and their children would grow up fatherless.

“No one can take his place in their lives,” he said.

Meanwhile in another surprise twist, state advocate Sankar revealed that he intended separating Nxumalo and Treasurer’s trial from that of businessperson Rajivee Soni. When postponing the case until August 25, Sankar made it clear that it would be a holding date only as far as Soni was concerned because he did not want him to to stand trial with his co-accused.

Soni is alleged to be the mastermind who hired the other accused to kill the doctor in revenge for his suspicions that he had an affair with his wife.

Other judges will hear the two trials as Judge Madondo can no longer preside after dealing with Dlamini’s guilty plea.

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