Slain wife threatened divorce

2010-04-23 00:00

HOWICK murder accused Sanesh Manilall (37) revealed in evidence yesterday that shortly before her murder in February 2006, his late wife, Monika, threatened to divorce him unless he ended his affair with his present wife, and co-accused in the case, Mumtaz Osman.

In reply to questions by KZN deputy Judge President Herbert Msimang yesterday, Manilall agreed that he had a motive to murder his wife, but said he did not do so.

He also testified that he has ne­ver suspected Osman or their co-accused, Mboniseni Victor Mbatha, of involvement in his wife’s death.

Earlier, Manilall told the court that when he arrived home, after being called by a neighbour, and found his wife dead, he was “hysterical and shocked”.

“As I entered the house I was directed to the bedroom and found my wife lying on the floor. I went to her and tried to pick her up and speak to her, but she would not respond,” he said. She was only later declared dead, he added.

Asked if he planned the murder with his co-accused, he replied: “That is not true. I had nothing at all to do with it.”

State advocate Attie Truter suggested to Manilall that cellphone records of calls made by Osman, on the day Monika Manilall was shot dead in her Overdene Road home by intruders (February 3, 2006), indicated that she was in the Merrivale/Howick area and in Pietermaritzburg and not in Pinetown as she has claimed.

He also questioned Manilall about 11 calls Osman made to him in the space of five hours between 8.17 am and 1.17 pm on the day of the murder. Each of the calls lasted between three and six seconds each. “Do you agree with me that one cannot have a meaningful conversation in the space of seconds?” Truter asked and Manilall agreed with him. He said he cannot recall what they had discussed.

Earlier, Manilall told the court that, despite his affair with Osman which began in 2005, he and his wife of 12 years were not having marital problems at that time.

“But that doesn’t make any sense. If you loved your wife and there was nothing wrong, then why betray her?” the judge asked Manilall, who responded: “That’s where I was wrong.”

“I just found [Osman] attractive at the time,” he added.

Manilall said his wife found out about the affair near the end of 2005 and she was “upset”. She gave him an ultimatum to stop the affair or she would leave him.

He did not want a divorce because he loved her and his children, he said. He apologised to her and said he would stop [the affair], but didn’t.

“We [he and Osman] did not call each other as many times,” he said. Instead of 20 to 30 times daily, they phoned each other “about 10 times” a day, but still met at a bed and breakfast in Greyling Street.

“I tried to stop it, but the urge to contact her was still there.”

Manilall said he did not know how his wife found out about his affair with Osman.

He agreed that they were married in community of property and their only assets were their home (which they owned jointly) and a car. If they divorced he would have lost half.

Manilall said Osman knew his wife had found out about the affair, but it did not bother her.

He denied telling Osman where he lived or discussing the security arrangements at his home with her or Mbatha.

Asked how the alleged killers — two of whom gave evidence for the state — knew “confidential” details such as the fact that Monika Manilall was on leave that week, that the domestic worker had the day off, and information about panic buttons in the house, Manilall answered that he did not know.

Judge Msimang will deliver his verdict in the trial on July 22.

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