30 years in jail for Soni

2018-10-29 11:05
Businessman Rajivee Sone appeared in the high court on Friday. He was sentenced to an effective 30 years for the murder of doctor Bhavish Sewramin May 2013.

Businessman Rajivee Sone appeared in the high court on Friday. He was sentenced to an effective 30 years for the murder of doctor Bhavish Sewramin May 2013. (Ian Carbutt)

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Businessman Rajivee Soni was stoney-faced as he was handed an effective 30-year jail term for the murder of Pietermaritzburg doctor Bhavish Sewram on Friday.

Soni was not as upbeat as he has characteristically been throughout his long trial and he looked anxious ahead of the sentencing. Physically he was much the same, though his hair was closely shaven after having spent the past few weeks mainly in the prison hospital following his conviction.

However, he shook hands and hugged family members soon after he arrived for his sentencing.

This is not yet the end of the road for Soni as his legal team prepares to apply for leave to appeal against his conviction and sentence, with the application provisionally set down for November 21.

Sewram was shot dead outside his surgery in May 2013 by people Soni had hired.

Sewram’s wife, Yuvadia, said after the sentencing — which took place inside a crammed courtroom — that no punishment will bring her husband back.

“He [Soni] brought this upon himself through his cowardice and ego. It is very sad that his family and innocent children have to suffer the consequences of his evil actions,” she said.

She added that Soni (42) will properly get out of jail when he is over 70 years old.

“The sentence is fitting for the crime,” she said.

Sewram’s dad, Parmanand, said he was “quite disappointed” that Soni did not get life.

“The loss of a child through a despicable deed is a loss that can never be overcome,” he said.

Nevertheless, he and his family thanked the investigating team and state advocate Johan du Toit for their excellent work.

He also thanked the community for their support and encouragement from the time his son was killed.

Judge Jacqueline Henriques said that she was of the view that imposing the life sentence for the murder would be “disproportionate and unjust” having considered all the factors placed before her. Her duty was to balance all the factors to come to a just sentence, she said,

Of the murder, she said it was premeditated.

She added that the defeating the ends of justice charges formed part of a scheme by Soni and the people he had hired, to “humiliate and degrade” the doctor. It took place over 18 months and Soni had sufficient time to put the past behind him. This is why she dismissed suggestions by the defence team that this was “a crime of passion”.

She said that many lives were adversely affected by the murder — the families of Soni and Sewram.

The judge considered in his favour that he was a first-time offender, once a useful member of society, and relatively young.

She ordered that a social worker visit Soni’s two children and submit reports to the court if the children are in need of care and protection.

She also recommended that Correctional Services take note of a report that the children should have contact with Soni.

Of Soni’s “health issues”, namely hypertension and depression, the judge said she was satisfied that there was sufficient treatment available in prison. Should his condition deteriorate, he could apply for medical parole.

In considering defence submissions that Soni was the “primary caregiver” of his daughter, the judge said that Soni’s ex-wife, Kerusha, could take care of her and their other child. She also said Soni’s family could also step in and assist in taking care of them. “I have no doubt the children will be cared for,” she said.

Judge Henriques was critical of the fact that Soni had not shown any remorse but said that although this is not aggravating, it would have shown that he appreciated the loss of life, especially as he and Sewram used to be friends.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  soni murder trial

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