Johannesburg - After a six-year court battle, controversial Durban businessman Rajiv Narandas was on Friday convicted of murder and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Narandas was found guilty of the murder of Veenand Singh, 32, in the parking lot of the Shoukara night club in Sandton on July 13, 2008.
In aggravation of sentence in the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court on Friday, Singh’s tearful mother, Ishara, called for a life sentence for her son’s murderer.
“For six years I have been in pain. Nothing compares to the loss of a child, especially in such an aggressive manner. We have been through so much,” she said.
Singh said a few days before her son was killed, he had gone to the doctor for a medical check.
“The doctor marvelled at what a strong heart he had. But then ... his heart was ripped apart.”
Narandas and his friends set upon Singh and his group after a series of jibes between the two inside the night club.
Magistrate Reiner Boshoff said he was happy that the State had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. “You are convicted,” said Boshoff amid claps and cheers from Singh’s family.
Narandas, dressed in a dark blue suit and a black tie with diamantes, began coughing and gagging when Boshoff read his verdict.
Court was adjourned for a few minutes for Narandas to “regain his composure”.
He was led out of court by his attorney, Mannie Witz.
His ailing father, Krish Narandas, and an unnamed girlfriend had accompanied him to court. Both appeared stunned at the verdict. They declined to speak to the media.
Witz told the court Krish Narandas had recently suffered a massive heart attack. He attributed it to the stress and trauma related to the case.
Boshoff said the State’s version of events that led to the murder of Singh was more probable.
“If you look at the dynamics and probabilities based on evidence led by the witnesses, one tends to side with the State’s version (that Singh was set upon by Narandas’s group and that Narandas and his late friend, Jenaide Charles, were the aggressors in a fight that led to Singh being stabbed).
Charles, 25, died last month in his sleep.
Boshoff said that discrepancies between the witnesses’ evidence did not detract from their believability.
“Individually and collectively, the witnesses (which included those in Singh’s group and Singh’s then girlfriend) impressed the court,” he said.
He also found that Narandas had “tailored” his evidence as he went along.
Boshoff found that all of Narandas’s friends should have been charged for the crime.
Narandas has applied for leave to appeal.
During the trial, Paroshen Soorian, part of Singh’s group, had testified that he’d seen Narandas fetch a “weapon” from under his car seat, then hold it above his head.
Soorian admitted, however, that he had not seen Singh being stabbed.
“Even if no one saw Narandas stabbing Singh, there might have been enough evidence to convict you anyway,” said Boshoff.
“I accept that you did indeed fetch a knife and stabbed the deceased. You were part and parcel of the group (that set upon Singh) and there was more than one weapon involved,” he said. “The deceased wanted to leave, but he was turned around and stabbed.”
Boshoff said there was more than one weapon involved.
In the past six years, postponements in this murder trial have left both parties – the family of murder victim and Narandas himself – frustrated.