Witness cop does U-turn in Soni trial

2015-03-24 00:00

FORMER policeman Sugen Naidoo back-tracked yesterday on an allegation that businessman Rajivee Soni falsely charged the late Dr Bhavish Sewram with assault in February 2012 and said the incident “could have happened”.

The assault charge forms the basis of one of the six counts Soni faces, including the murder of Sewram on May 13, 2013.

The state alleges Soni embarked on a campaign which included laying false charges of assault and sexual assault against Sewram in order to “drive him out of town” because he suspected him of having an affair with his wife.

Naidoo testified that after a number of costly plans including planting drugs and an illegal firearm on Sewram, and to stab Sewram, had failed to materialise, Soni became frustrated.

They then “settled” on a plan to open a case of common assault against the doctor using a friend of Soni’s (Roshan Jayinath) as a witness.

“I investigated the docket myself. I obtained the witness statement myself. This was a false allegation. It was a false docket,” Naidoo said in his original testimony ­before Judge Jaqueline Henriques and assessor Gerhard Barnard.

But when defence attorney Naren Sangham said yesterday that Soni alleges the assault really happened and the case was genuine, Naidoo appeared uncertain.

Asked by Sangham if it could have ­happened and he had just forgotten it, he responded, “There could have been a miscommunication”.

“So it’s possible the assault could have taken place?” asked Sangham, to which Naidoo replied; “It could have”.

According to Jayinath’s statement, which was read out to Naidoo, he said he was travelling with Soni in his car when they stopped in traffic in Allandale Road on February 18, 2012. A white car drew alongside, and Sewram “jumped out”.

Jayinath said Sewram approached Soni and “without saying anything struck him in the face” and stated that he was “going to kill him”.

He said Soni was “shocked” and drove off. They drove to Jayinath’s house where he put ice onto Soni’s face.

According to the evidence the case was referred to court, but was eventually ­withdrawn.

The defence is currently questioning Naidoo concerning an alleged false case of sexual assault against the late doctor, which he alleges was orchestrated by Soni.

Naidoo has told the court that two cases of sexual assault were fabricated against the doctor at Soni’s behest — one by Mariamma Kisten and another by Sonali Khan.

The motive was to embarrass Sewram and get him struck off the medical roll.

Naidoo confirmed yesterday that a private doctor had been called in to examine Khan in connection with her allegation that she was sexually molested by Sewram at his surgery. He said he’d told Khan’s stepfather Zaheer Khan to ensure that his daughter had “marks” on her legs.

He said this would explain the doctor’s finding that Khan had “tenderness and bruising” on her arm and right shin.

He said he did not know how the bruises were inflicted.

The case is proceeding.

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