Murder trial: 2 meet in secret

2015-06-01 09:14

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Pietermaritzburg - An allegedly prohibited meeting between Pietermaritzburg murder accused Rajivee Soni and a State witness at his trial who recently claimed that the businessman “set him up” to be charged with corruption, was captured by a CCTV camera.

A copy of the footage is in possession of The Witness.

The footage was reportedly seized by police who were investigating claims that Soni may have breached his bail conditions by having contact with a State witness in his murder trial, Gonaseelen “Daryl” Gounder.

Scenes from the footage, some of which are depicted in photographs above, show Gounder entering a building in Shakile’s Centre, which belongs to Soni. The footage is dated April 30, 2015.

The video shows Gounder walking into the building at 12:14:05, wait and look around expectantly.

Seconds later, at 12:14:15, Soni enters, walks directly up to Gounder and the two men shake hands.

Gounder thereafter sits down on a low brick wall while Soni and he commence with an intensive discussion.

Although there is no sound available, there is no visible sign that either of them is upset in any way. After a discussion lasting 10 minutes they part company — Soni walking out of the door at 12:24:00, while Gounder leaves in the opposite direction, walking further into the building.

The footage appears to contradict Soni’s version that Gounder had approached him “on a construction site” but that Soni “ignored him because he is not allowed to associate with any State witnesses [in his trial].”

Gounder thereafter allegedly followed the businessman, Soni’s lawyer, Naren Sangham previously told The Witness. He allegedly told Soni he wanted R70 000 in exchange for help with his case.

Sangham told The Witness that he had contacted police who set a trap for Gounder and arrested him at Pavilion shopping centre allegedly moments after he accepted a R10 000 bribe from Soni in exchange for a statement relating to the trial.

During his first court appearance, however, Gounder denied that he had approached Soni. On the contrary, he alleged that Soni had contacted him first and “set him up” to be arrested.

Gounder told the court he had met Soni “behind the shop” at Shakile’s Centre on two occasions and once at the Pavilion.

In response to being told of the CCTV footage, which appears to contradict Soni’s claims that the meeting happened “on a construction site” and that he sent Gounder away, Sangham said the footage “won’t stand up in court” because police didn’t have a warrant to seize it. He also said Shakile’s Centre “is a construction site”.

He stressed, however, that he (Sangham) wasn’t present when Soni and Gounder allegedly met.

He was in Pretoria when Soni reported to him that Gounder had contacted him, he said. Sangham said he’d immediately contacted “independent police” to investigate.

An authorised police trap was thereafter set up and Gounder was arrested.

Sangham also warned that video footage “can be manipulated very easily by the police”.

He again said he has information that senior policemen involved in the investigation in which Soni stands charged for the 2013 murder of Dr ­Bhavish Sewram, are themselves the subject of a “high level” investigation for alleged misconduct.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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