‘It was a stupid plan’

2015-09-30 10:30
Rajivee Soni

Rajivee Soni

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Pietermaritzburg - In a twist in the Pietermaritzburg high court, it has been claimed that the man who said he had tipped off Dr Bhavish Sewram about a plan to kill him, allegedy told businessman Rajivee Soni that it was the doctor who was prepared to pay R100 000 to harm him.

This startling suggestion was made yesterday by Soni’s defence lawyer, Naren Sangham, while cross examining state witness Professor Mlungisi Sithebe, who had testified that Soni offered to pay him R100 000 to kill the doctor.

Sangham said Soni denies offering to pay R100 000 “or any amount, to kill, scare or frighten” Sewram.

Soni also denies Sithebe’s claims that the businessman drove him to Sewram’s surgeries in the CBD and Northdale, and that he paid Sithebe R3 000 to buy a firearm to use to shoot Sewram, said ­Sangham.

“All the irregularities, inconsistencies and lack of chronological order” in Sithebe’s testimony pointed to the fact that he was lying, said Sangham.

Sithebe responded that he “had no reason to make up such a story” and that he had told the truth. Being a Christian, he had warned the doctor that Soni wanted him dead.

But during cross-examination, ­Sangham suggested that Sithebe’s ­evidence matched previous state witness Sugen Naidoo’s statement about the doctor “being willing to pay R100 000 for information to harm Soni”.

Naidoo had said that a Constable Chatu from Mountain Rise warned him that Soni was “overdoing it by interfering with the doctor”.

“He told me that we all ate from the same pie and enough is enough. He then told me that he could introduce me to a person who is helping the doctor to sort Rajeeve (sic) out.

“Constable Chatu told him his contact, not mentioning the name, was willing to pay me R100 000 for information on Rajeeve,” Naidoo wrote in his statement to police.

“The only time this question of R100 000 came about was in relation to the doctor wanting information about the accused [Soni],” Sangham told Sithebe, who replied, “I am telling you that Soni offered me R100 000 to kill the doctor.”

“Mr Soni will say that you [Sithebe] came to him in his office and conveyed to him some information that the doctor was prepared to pay R100 000 to harm the accused,” Sangham said.

He added that in Sithebe’s police statement he had said Sithebe and the doctor had “started to plan what to do about Soni wanting the doctor killed”.

“You not only wanted to warn the doctor, you sat with the doctor and planned what to do,” said Sangham, to which Sithebe told Sangham he was trying to “turn things around”.

“I will tell you what we planned. Soni wanted the doctor to be killed, urgently. Our plan was to make as though the doctor was injured or shot dead. We didn’t know how to do this, the doctor and I, because Soni was rushing me … that is why we faked the fact the doctor was killed,” said Sithebe. But he said Soni was “smarter” than they thought and called police stations to find out if it was true.

“That is why it was a stupid plan. It shows we were confused,” he said.

The case is proceeding

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  murder  |  court  |  soni

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