Soni says evidence ‘tailormade’ to suit police’s case

2017-08-08 14:22
Murder accused Rajivee Soni.

Murder accused Rajivee Soni. (File)

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Murder accused Rajivee Soni believes he was “framed” by two senior police officers involved in the investigation of his case.

Soni said this when denying repeatedly on Monday that he was ever behind a plan or conspiracy to “hurt” or to kill his former live rival, Dr Bhavish Sewram, or that he orchestrated the doctor’s murder on May 13, 2013.

Soni named Colonel Yoga Naidoo and Colonel Bala Naidoo — both members of the Durban SAPS Provincial Task Team as the officers he suspects of “framing” him.

He told Judge Jacqueline Henriques and assessor Gerhard Barnard that in his opinion the two officers had been “up to a lot of shenanigans” and he believes that they “tailormade” evidence to suit their case against Soni.

Soni said his belief was based on claims by (former potential state witnesses) Sergeant Sagren “Ricky” Naidoo and Sergeant Nischal Maharaj who retracted their original witness statements against him in February 2014 and claimed they’d made them “under duress”.

Soni said the same applied to a “retraction statement” by another former potential state witness in the case, Daryl Gounder, which revealed that Gounder was allegedly “drunk” when he signed his original statement in front of investigators.

“When I look at all three of these retraction statements it seems to me that Bala Naidoo and the investigating officer Yoga Naidoo framed me and tailormade the evidence to suit their case against me,” Soni told the court.

“[Colonel] Yoga Naidoo was always on the witness list to testify and we prepared a lot of questions for him but he conveniently didn’t come [to give evidence] in the end,” he added.

The so-called “retraction statement” was seized from Gounder during a “sting” operation set up by Soni and his former attorney, Naren Sangham, together with members of the SAPS anti-corruption task team at the Pavilion last year.

Soni alleges that Gounder had earlier approached him and tried to extort R50 000 from him in exchange for retracting his original statement.

Gounder was regarded at the time as a potential witness in relation to allegations that Soni was behind a conspiracy to “plant” drugs on Sewram and to falsely charge the doctor with sexual assault.

Sergeants Naidoo and Maharaj (formerly based at Town Hill police station) are alleged by key state witness and self confessed “corrupt” Mountain Rise policeman Sugen Naidoo to have carried out an assault on Sewram by shooting him with a paintball gun on October 24, 2012.

They both retracted their original statements in the matter on February 19, 2014. The court has heard that the doctor was injured in the paintball attack, which was reported at Mountain Rise police station.

In his evidence Sugen Naidoo claimed that the paintball gun incident was planned by Soni, who paid the policemen R10 000 for the job and also purchased the paintball gun and solid projectiles used to shoot the doctor.

He alleged Soni had expressed a desire for the doctor to suffer the maximum injuries possible. On Monday Soni said his cellphone records show that on the day Sugen Naidoo claimed they went shopping in Durban and Pinetown for the paintball gun, he (Soni) was in Pietermaritzburg all day.

He said he knows nothing about the incident at all. Soni also testified yesterday about his arrest in connection with Sewram’s murder during August 2013.

He told the court that he handed himself over to police on August 12, 2013. Just before this there were “a lot of rumours” that police wanted to arrest him, he said.

Soni said his lawyer, Naren Sangham, spoke to the head of the KZN provincial task team, Brigadier Clifford Marion, and told him Soni would make himself available if they needed him.

“Despite this I viewed CCTV footage of my house … I saw a policeman pushing Colonel Bala Naidoo over my fence.

“There were also 12 plainclothes gentlemen who got over my fence into my yard,” said Soni.

He said his sister, who lived next door, went over and opened the door for the policemen. “The CCTV inside my house shows these 12 men entering my house. You could see them walking all round my house and searching whatever rooms,” he said.

He said this happened on August 8, 2013 at about 4 pm.

According to Soni, he was never shown a search warrant or a warrant for his arrest by any policeman.

He said when police entered his home he was “already in Durban” with his family for the long weekend.

The case is continuing.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  soni murder trial

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