Manilall gets bail in ‘hit plot’ case

2008-06-25 00:00

Wife-murder accused Sunesh Manilall (35), who was re-arrested last month on a fresh charge — of conspiracy to murder a co-accused — was yesterday granted bail by a Pietermaritzburg magistrate, despite the state’s opposition.

Magistrate Themba Simamane, after hearing testimony from Manilall and investigating officer Inspector Swami Pillay, said he believed there is “not much evidence” requiring that Manilall be kept in custody. Bail was set at R1 000.

Manilall has already paid R20 000 bail in connection with the murder charge for which he goes on trial in the high court on September 15.

The conspiracy case was postponed until July 24.

Manilall, his present wife, Mumtaz Osman, and co-accused Victor Mbatha are alleged to have murdered Manilall’s first wife, Monika. She was shot dead at her home in Howick in 2006. The state alleges that the murder was motivated by Manilall’s affair with Osman.

Manilall was re-arrested on May 30 on a second charge that he conspired with a prisoner, Kurt Anderson, in March to murder Mbatha in jail.

Pillay testified yesterday that Anderson has made a sworn statement in which he details a plot to kill Mbatha, as well as Siyabonga Mdlalose, a state witness in the murder case. Mdlalose is serving a life sentence for the murder of Monika Manilall. He pleaded guilty.

Pillay said it is alleged that Manilall asked Anderson to arrange the “hit” while they were together in New Prison before Manilall was given bail.

Manilall allegedly offered to pay R5 000 for each of the men to be killed.

After Manilall’s release on bail, he allegedly visited Anderson at the prison and again promised money if the “hit” was carried out.

Pillay said at that stage Anderson was not in the same section as Mbatha and he in turn discussed the matter with a member of the “26 Gang” in prison, Leroy Dunbar.

Pillay said Dunbar warned Mbatha about the plot, and Mbatha informed his father, who approached the police.

Instructions have since been given that all the prisoners involved be held in isolation pending the trial.

Pillay testified that following Manilall’s arrest in connection with the conspiracy case, his wife, Osman, visited Howick resident Mark Anderson at his home and asked him to get Kurt Anderson to retract the statement he had made.

Pillay maintained the state has “strong evidence” against Manilall.

Defence advocate Shane Matthews suggested to Pillay that the conspiracy allegation is based on the evidence of a single witness and on hearsay, and that both cases against him are “weak”.

He also suggested to Pillay that his decision to arrest Manilall on the present charge was motivated by an argument at his office during which Pillay allegedly threatened to lock Manilall up.

Pillay denied this, although he admitted having argued with Manilall in connection with his bail conditions.

In his evidence Manilall said he has complied with all his previous bail conditions. He said he has a business to run in Howick, has two children and a wife and would not flee if released on bail.

He said that on the advice of his lawyers he did not wish to answer any questions directly related to the conspiracy charge, as he is not obliged to do so by law.

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