Sudden twist in Soni trial

2015-05-06 10:52
Rajivee Soni

Rajivee Soni

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THE Rajivee Soni murder trial, which is in recess, took a sensational turn yesterday when a policeman who is due to testify for the state was arrested in Durban.

The Mountain Rise policeman was caught in a trap set by the Anti-Corruption Task Team after being alerted by Pietermaritzburg attorney Naren ­Sangham, who is representing Soni in his trial. The businessman stands ­accused of ordering the murder of Pietermaritzburg doctor Bhavish Sewram, apparently because he suspected the doctor of having an affair with his wife.

Sangham told The Witness yesterday that the policeman had approached Soni last week and asked for R70 000 in order to retract a statement he had given to detectives investigating the murder.

Sangham said Soni had refused to deal with the policeman because he is not ­allowed to associate with any of the state witnesses.

The policeman had nevertheless persisted in his entreaties to Soni.

“This guy started mumbling that he was given alcohol by [three policemen], who got him drunk. They virtually wrote the statement and made him sign it,” said Sangham.

Soni then called an urgent meeting with Sangham and reported the matter to him. “I said we need to report this as it will come back and be used against us,” said Sangham.

He then contacted the head of the ­Anti-Corruption Task Team in KwaZulu-Natal and arranged a meeting over the weekend, when Soni had given a ­statement detailing the policeman’s ­approach.

“I told him [Colonel C. Jones] what transpired and he arranged to meet with me and my client. We put it down in a statement and met him again on ­Monday. They then got the authority from an advocate at the Director of Public Prosecutions to set up the trap.”

A sting operation was then set up to nab the officer, bribe in hand.

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

Soni was 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 in marked bills provided by the task team was handed to the officer by Soni, in ­exchange for a statement which Soni was made to read.

The contents of that document are unknown.

According to Sangham, the agreement was that the balance of the money would be handed over once one of Soni’s lawyers read and were satisfied with the contents of the document.

Once the exchange was made, more than 15 members of the task team, who were in disguise in the vicinity awaiting the deal, pounced on the officer and arrested him.

A member of the task team said the officer was arrested for trying to secure a R70 000 bribe from Soni. The man had claimed to Soni that he had made a false statement to detectives investigating the Sewram murder and had offered to give the businessman the “truth” in exchange for money.

The man will appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court this week

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