Wife killer to appeal 18-year sentence

2013-04-16 00:00

THE case against self-confessed wife-killer Madhan Maharaj (49) “cried out” for pre-sentencing reports to be obtained before he was jailed for 18 years.

This was because of allegations of a history of family and marital problems and that he suffered from schizophrenia.

These were among the submissions made by Advocate Louis Barnard, who yesterday successfully applied to regional court trial magistrate Riaan de Wet for leave to appeal Maharaj’s sentence in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court.

Regional court prosecutor Pranisha Kasool did not oppose the application.

Barnard submitted that even though Maharaj was legally represented at his trial, the trial magistrate ought to have called for pre-sentencing reports, saying a defended accused “ought not to be worse off than an undefended one”.

He also submitted that another court might find that Maharaj should not have been sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment, which is three years longer than the minimum prescribed sentence for unpremeditated murder.

Barnard said De Wet should have explained to Maharaj at the outset that even though he was a first offender, he ran the risk of being sentenced to a period higher than the prescribed minimum.

He submitted that the magistrate should also have informed Maharaj’s attorney that he was thinking of imposing more than the minimum sentence and invited him to address the court before doing so.

“There was no need to impose a sentence in excess of the prescribed minimum,” he submitted.

Another reason for the appeal was that there was no need for the trial court to impose a non-parole period of 12 years’ imprisonment on Maharaj.

Barnard said this should only be imposed in exceptional circumstances, and only after the defence had an opportunity to address the court in that regard as well.

Barnard argued further that there was a reasonable possibility that another court could find that it was a misdirection by the magistrate to find that Maharaj had “lived a carefree life for seven years”.

He said another court might find that the fact that Maharaj pleaded guilty, together with the circumstances that led to the murder, amounted to compelling and substantial circumstances that could justify a court imposing even less than the prescribed minimum term on him.

Maharaj was arrested last year for the murder of his wife Caroline Rajah in 2005, after living as a fugitive from justice for seven years. He was discovered by police working as a caretaker at Riverview Primary School in ­Phoenix.

Soon after his arrest last August, Maharaj pleaded guilty to bludgeoning his wife to death in anger after he had accused her of having an affair, which she denied.

When sentencing Maharaj, De Wet said he had decided to impose more than the minimum sentence because of the seriousness, prevalence and brutality of the offence. He also found Maharaj had not shown true remorse for his actions because he had lived a carefree existence for seven years while hiding from police.

Rajah’s sister, Roslyn, told the court that the couple had a stormy relationship and that her sister had been assaulted by Maharaj on other occasions.

The date for Maharaj’s appeal to the high court has not been determined, but The Witness was told it could be heard before the end of the year.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.