‘Plausible’ reason for cash

2015-05-07 11:56
Warrant Officer Gonaseelen ‘Daryl’ Gounder.

Warrant Officer Gonaseelen ‘Daryl’ Gounder. PHOTO: Supplied

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A SEASONED Mountain Rise detective involved in the high-profile Rajivee Soni murder trial, says he has been set up after he was arrested this week for allegedly accepting a bribe.

Warrant Officer Gonaseelen ‘Daryl’ Gounder (48) appeared before the ­Durban Commercial Crime Court ­yesterday after being caught allegedly taking a R10 000 payment from Soni at the Pavilion shopping centre.

He said at his bail application that he was “definitely not guilty”.

The policeman was caught in a sting by the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) after being alerted by Pietermaritzburg attorney Naren Sangham, who is representing Soni in his trial.

Soni currently stands accused of ­ordering the murder of Pietermaritzburg doctor Bhavish Sewram, apparently because he suspected the doctor of having an affair with his wife.

Gounder’s version of how the ­meeting at the Pavilion came about differs significantly from that of Soni, with both men claiming the other first made contact.

Taking the stand to persuade the court that he should be granted bail, Gounder said Soni contacted him, and not the other way round.

“I met with Soni at his request. He would phone me. We met behind the Shakile’s Centre, which is about 300 ­metres from the Mountain Rise police station. There will be CCTV footage to prove we met. I met with Soni three times: twice behind the shop and once at the Pavilion shopping centre,” said Gounder.

He is currently facing a charge of corruption. Further charges, such as extortion and defeating the ends of justice, are likely to follow, said prosecutor Mlungisi Magwanyana.

But father of two Gounder (48) maintained his innocence, claiming there was a “plausible explanation” for why he had the money in his possession, but he would not answer whether he had accepted money from Soni, maintaining that this remained part of his defence.

Gounder was nabbed after Sangham contacted the police, claiming the policeman had approached Soni and was attempting to extort R70 000 out of his client in exchange for key information relating to his murder trial. Gounder is also a witness in the Soni trial.

Sangham then contacted the ACTT.

A sting operation was set up to nab the officer.

It was arranged that Soni and the policeman would meet in the food court of the Pavilion, where the businessman would receive and pay for a statement provided by the officer.

It is thought that this statement would contradict one Gounder had already given to detectives investigating Sewram’s murder, and on which he was expected to testify during Soni’s trial.

Soni was apparently provided with marked police money to hand over to the officer, who arrived disguised in a jacket, hat and sunglasses.

Sangham said that instead of R70 000, an amount of R10 000 was provided by the task team to be handed to the officer by Soni. Gounder was told that the remainder of the money would be handed over once Soni was satisfied with the contents of the document.

However, the police pounced once the exchange had taken place.

The contents of the document received by Soni are unknown.

Gounder told The Witness prior to his bail application, while sitting in the dock and awaiting the arrival of Magistrate Judy Naidoo, that he believed he was the victim of a set-up.

Prior to court beginning, he told Magwanyana that Soni wanted to use his arrest as leverage in his own trial.

The matter was postponed until May 29, with Gounder released on R2 000 bail.

According to former “rogue” Mountain Rise policeman Sugen Naidoo, who has given evidence for the State at Soni’s trial, he had enlisted the help of Daryl Gounder in a plan by Soni to “plant” drugs in the surgery of Dr Bhavish Sewram.

The plan was never carried out, even though they were paid, and he and Gounder had “deceived” Soni about the reasons for this, he said.

Naidoo also testified that Gounder was responsible for locating Mariamma Kisten in February 2012, and enlisting her to concoct a false sexual assault charge against the doctor, for which Soni allegedly paid R20 000

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