Soni’s private hospital stay

2019-06-18 15:32

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Convicted murderer Rajivee Soni spent Father’s Day at a private hospital so that his children did not have to visit him at New Prison on the special occasion.

However, only his daughter was able to visit and not his son because the hospital does not allow visits by children under 12.

The Witness confirmed with sources, including a Correctional Services employee, that Soni was admitted to the Eden Gardens private hospital. He was still a patient there on Monday afternoon.

Soni (42), who is serving an effective 30-year sentence for the murder of his former best friend Dr Bhavish Sewram, has not spent much time in a prison cell since going to jail. Instead, his days have been spent in the prison hospital.

A man who knows Soni well, said: “It appears he has a lot of influence because of his affluence.”

The Witness has previously reported that Soni was living a rather privileged life as a prisoner. He allegedly had access to a smartphone, which he used to video call his children, ate food from Woolworths every day and had regular contact meetings with his children in an office, not the prison visitation rooms.

Very little has been revealed about his health. At the time of sentencing last year, Soni’s advocate Jimmy Howse told the court that Soni was suffering from hypertension and coronary disease, for which he was on medication, as well as depression. Howse had asked the court at the time to consider the Schabir Shaik case.

Shaik, a former financial adviser to former president Jacob Zuma, had served just two years and four months of his 15-year sentence for fraud and corruption when he was granted medical parole on being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Shaik is still alive.

Earlier this month, Soni was denied leave to appeal against his bail refusal. Judge Jacqueline Henriques commented that a letter was submitted to the court stating that Soni suffered from “non-occlusive coronary disease and blood pressure”. There was no reference to him suffering from any chronic illness.

She said there was nothing in the court papers that dealt with him being in the prison hospital. The judge said that “one would have thought that if his health condition was so serious, he would have taken steps to bring this to the court’s attention for consideration”.

Soni had Sewram killed in May 2013 outside his surgery. He believed that the doctor was having an affair with his wife. Soni was also found guilty on five other charges; three of defeating the ends of justice, conspiracy to commit murder and assault. The defeating the ends of justice charges formed part of a scheme by Soni and the people he had hired, to “humiliate and degrade” the doctor. It took place over 18 months.

An employee in the New Prison communications department told The Witness on Monday that he had been in touch with the head of the centre at the prison and asked him to respond to an inquiry by The Witness about Soni being admitted to a private hospital. He added that the head of the centre would respond and forward it to “Mr [Thulani] Mdluli, since procedurally he is the one with direct response”.

The Witness was un­able to contact Mdluli on Monday as his cellphone rang unanswered and he did not respond to a text message.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  soni murder trial

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