A doctor from Pietermaritzburg who was killed outside his surgery last year, allegedly at the order of a former friend who believed he was having an affair with his wife, had a R20 million insurance policy on his life, which has not been paid out.
Attorney Naren Sangham, who is representing Rajivee Soni, one of the men charged with Dr Bhavish Sewram’s murder, told the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday the policy was the subject of an investigation.
He did not say more, such as who the beneficiaries were.
Sangham said he was awaiting other reports from insurance companies to determine whether Sewram had more policies.
The State alleges that Soni hired Brian Treasurer, who in turn hired Mfaniseni Nxumalo and Sabelo Dlamini to kill the doctor. All four are charged with the murder.
It is alleged that Soni and the Sewrams were good friends until their relationship soured in 2012 when Soni suspected that his wife was having an affair with the doctor. He wanted revenge, so began by arranging that a false charge of sexual assault be laid against Sewram. The charge was later withdrawn.
Furious that the plan crumbled, Soni allegedly charged the doctor with assault, saying he had slapped him, the State alleges. This charge was also withdrawn.
The State further alleges that when other schemes failed to yield the desired results, Soni again decided to concoct false charges of a sexual nature against Sewram, which were withdrawn. Dissatisfied, Soni allegedly hired two people to shoot Sewram with a paintball gun. Sewram sustained multiple superficial abrasions, the court heard.
It is alleged that in February last year, Soni hired a man called Mlungisi Sithebe to kill Sewram for R10 000.
Sithebe pretended to agree, but instead told the doctor of the plan.
When everything failed, the State said, Soni offered Treasurer R100 000 to kill the doctor. Treasurer, Nxumalo and Dlamini saw the plan through.
The trial was supposed to begin two weeks ago, but was adjourned because Sangham wanted time to investigate allegations that the doctor had life insurance amounting to R33m.
Sangham said he had been told that Sewram’s wife, Yuvadia, and her father were the trustees of a trust held at First National Bank.
He said policies had been taken out between a year and 18 months before the doctor’s death. Yesterday, Sangham said he was waiting for more information on that policy and if there were others.
State advocate Sandesh Sankar said the court should separate the trial of Soni from the rest of the men, as it could not proceed for various reasons, including that an application that had been brought for Judge Isaac Madondo to recuse himself because he had been the judge in a civil matter two years ago involving Soni and his wife. Judge Madondo did not rule on this.
Sankar also said one of the men intended pleading guilty. The judge adjourned the case until today, without deciding if the trials should be separated.
After the adjournment, attorney Siva Chetty, acting for Yuvadia Sewram, said she denied the existence of a R20m policy.