‘Keep Soni in prison’

2019-03-08 14:45
Convicted murderer Rajivee Soni.

Convicted murderer Rajivee Soni.

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Jailed businessman Rajivee Soni knows what prison life is like and if granted bail pending his appeal, he is not going to want to return.

This was among the submissions made in the Durban high court on Thursday by state advocate Johan du Toit. He was arguing why Soni should not be given bail if the court grants him leave to appeal his conviction and effective 30-year sentence.

Soni was found guilty of the murder of his former best friend Dr Bhavish Sewram in May 2013. He killed him because he suspected the doctor of having an affair with his wife.

Du Toit said the leave to appeal application is brought on “minute details” and one has to look at the totality of the evidence. Contradictions will always exist, he said.

Soni’s advocate Jimmy Howse used this against Du Toit, saying that perhaps a different court will see the contradictions differently, which is why leave to appeal should be granted.

Du Toit said that Soni’s defence is that everything is “rubbish, it is manufactured”.

He said it has been suggested that the state “dug up” the evidence on the six counts Soni was convicted of.

“Somehow we built the evidence. This just can’t happen,” he added.

The other charges are: three of defeating the ends of justice — one where Soni laid a false charge of assault against the doctor and the other two of him getting two women to lay false sexual assault charges against the doctor, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm where Soni got two policemen to use paintball guns to shoot the doctor, and another charge of conspiracy to murder the doctor.

Du Toit reacted to criticism about the state not calling certain witnesses saying that the defence could have called them. He said Soni’s advocates are experienced enough and don’t need to be told who they can call.

He said that two witnesses, Ricky Naidoo and Nishal Maharaj — who allegedly were the paintball shooters — had retracted their statements.

“How on earth can the state call Maharaj and Naidoo after they made retraction statements?” Du Toit said.

Howse said: “That’s our point exactly. You did not call them because you knew they would not corroborate Sugen [Naidoo].”

His evidence was on the first five counts.

Howse said that Maharaj and Ricky’s evidence would have contradicted Sugen’s, which is why the state had not called them.

“That’s a matter of inference the court has to draw.

“These differences he [Du Toit] concedes provide valid grounds for appeal,” said Howse.

Howse said that Soni would go back to leading a “responsible” life on bail.

Said Du Toit: “He planned all sort of actions … so what if you donate to the temple, church whatever. That does not make you a responsible person. He [Soni] is a low life.”

Judge Jacqueline Henriques will deliver judgment next month.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  soni murder trial

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