Johannesburg - The spotlight fell on the late Jenaide Charles, former friend of Durban businessman and murder accused Rajiv Narandas, as argument was led in Narandas’s murder trial in the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
Charles died of a heart attack three weeks ago, at the age of 25. Charles’s father, Rikesh Charles, said his son “died in his sleep and he went peacefully”.
Charles, who was employed as a site manager, was sentenced in 2011, together with his friends, for the attempted murder of Lance Moodley, the son of Durban businessman and racehorse owner Roy Moodley, in 2008.
Narandas remained friends with Charles to the end, even though his defence team has fingered the dead man as the one who should have been in the dock rather than Narandas.
In his final argument on Thursday, Narandas’s advocate, Mannie Witz, mentioned Charles on a number of occasions as the “main aggressor” in the fracas that led to the killing of Veenand Singh in the parking lot of the Shoukara nightclub in Sandton on July 13, 2008.
Judgment in the case, which has lasted for more than six years, is set down for next Friday.
Witz said evidence was that Singh and Charles were talking to each other initially, then fell into an altercation.
“At most, the accused (Narandas) was staring down at the deceased, his arms folded, but he had no weapon,” said Witz.
He pointed to undisputed evidence that Charles, on the other hand, was armed, and submitted that he had initiated the fight.
Witness Paroshen Soorian (who was in Singh’s group that night) told the court previously that Charles had approached Singh’s group and shouted: “Do you know who the f*** we are, you c***?”
Soorian said his brother Gyendra, who was at the scene, told him Charles had a “long wooden stick or cane, which held a sword”.
However, while Witz never contested this part of Soorian’s evidence, he submitted that his evidence and that of other State witnesses was full of contradictions and discrepancies, particularly when comparing it to the expert medical evidence of pathologist Gert Saayman.
“Professor Saayman found that the injury was a horizontal stab wound of about 40-50mm, and that moderate force was used… He said that if there was no movement, it was unlikely that it could’ve been inflicted by a left-handed assailant (Narandas is left-handed). This directly contradicts evidence by witnesses who said the stabbing was fierce and hard, and it was a downwards or upwards stabbing,” said Witz.
Also, Saayman had not excluded the possibility that the wound was caused by a sword-like weapon, he added.
Witz also focused on the lack of blood on Narandas after the fight.
“Medical evidence is that there is a lot of blood with this type of injury. Yet there was not a speck of blood on the accused afterwards,” he said.
In her argument against Narandas, State prosecutor Adele Barnard said the fact that witnesses had contradicted each other was normal in the circumstances (of a brawl involving a number of people), and these did not affect the “material aspects” of the case.
“These discrepancies don’t mean they (the witnesses) aren’t telling the truth,” she said.
On the other hand, Narandas had contradicted himself, said Barnard, adding that it was clear under cross-examination that he “amended his version on several occasions”.
She also pointed to undisputed evidence that a Swiss army knife was witnessed on the scene, and that this was the weapon Narandas used to kill Singh.
Narandas admitted he saw the Swiss army knife lying on the ground during the fighting that had broken out around him.
Witz submitted that Narandas picked the knife up “in order to prevent himself or anyone else getting stabbed”, then he left the scene as fighting continued.
Narandas and his girlfriend, with a number of members of the Singh family, were in court, and are expected to turn out again for the long-awaited finale of this trial.