Durban - Alleged murder mastermind Inderesan “Alvin” Maistry was the beneficiary of three insurance policies worth R3.7 million taken out on the life of his wife and he cashed one in two days after her death, according to the State.
This emerged on Monday when Maistry, of Merebank, lost his bail appeal application in the Durban High Court.
Judge King Ndlovu said he could not fault a ruling by Durban magistrate Vanitha Armu not to grant bail.
He said he had not only considered the magistrate’s reasons for denying Maistry bail in May, but also the evidence presented before the court.
Among the evidence was that Maistry, 44, was the beneficiary of the three insurance policies taken out in his wife, Charmaine Naidoo’s, name.
Maistry and Naidoo, 32, ran a supermarket together. In February, Naidoo had just returned from the shop in Wentworth when robbers stormed her house in Merebank.
She was shoved into her car and taken to KwaMakhutha where she was shot, stabbed several times and strangled with her shoelace. Her body was dumped, and her car was abandoned in Isipingo.
Maistry and his co-accused, Mandlenkosi Jobe, 40, and Bongani Manyathi, 28, face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
It is alleged Maistry hired Jobe to kill his wife and that Jobe in turn hired Manyathi and Sifiso Joyisa to carry out the killing.
Joyisa, 42, pleaded guilty to his involvement in the murder and implicated his co-accused. He is serving a 40-year jail sentence.
Both Maistry and Jobe unsuccessfully applied for bail.
Armu, in denying Maistry bail, said his release would “definitely undermine or jeopardise the public confidence in the criminal justice system”.
She also said the State had a prima facie case and Maistry had shown no exceptional circumstances to justify being granted bail.
She felt the interest of justice far outweighed the interest of the applicant.
In his bail appeal, Maistry claimed the State did not have a strong case because Joyisa, its main witness, wanted to take his plea on review.
Maistry said it appeared that his arrest was triggered by Joyisa’s revelations.
He also argued that as Joyisa was in custody it would not be possible for him to have access to him if he (Maistry) were to be released on bail.
Maistry’s counsel, advocate Dalene Barnard, argued on Monday that her client was not a flight risk as he was a single parent of three children. His first wife, Amanda, died in a car accident.
“He is their primary caregiver and someone who is grounded in the Durban area. When he became aware of his pending arrest, he contacted the police to make arrangements. He did not flee. All these factors amount to exceptional circumstances for him to be granted bail,” said Barnard.
She also argued that the magistrate was wrong in her judgment in that she failed to consider appropriate bail conditions as an alternative to continued incarceration.
State advocate ZG Mshololo argued that Maistry was charged with a Schedule 6 offence, which required him to satisfy the court that on a balance of probabilities exceptional circumstances existed which in the interest of justice warrant his release on bail.
She said the State had a strong case against him and he faced a serious offence which could result in a lengthy jail term if convicted, and he could try to flee.
Mshololo also referred to investigating officer Warrant Officer Rajen Nagesar’s testimony in opposition to bail.
He said there were three policies taken out in Naidoo’s name 1Life Direct Insurance for R1m; Frank.net Insurance Company for R1.2m; and Old Mutual Insurance for R1.5m.
Maistry, he said, was listed as a beneficiary in all three policies. He also said Naidoo’s daughter, from a previous relationship, was a co-beneficiary in the Frank.net policy.
Nagesar said Maistry had already lodged a claim from 1Life Direct two days after Naidoo’s death.
Judge Ndlovu, in his ruling, considered the following factors as pertinent:
* The charges against Maistry were serious and could hold a possible life sentence if he was convicted.
* In spite of the investigations not being complete, there appeared to be a strong case against Maistry.
* The outrage displayed by the Merebank community towards Maistry and attempts to physically attack him.
Based on the first two factors, the judge felt Maistry could try to evade trial.
Alternatively, based on all three factors, he said, there was a likelihood that Maistry’s release on bail would jeopardise his safety.
“I’m unable to find that (magistrate Armu’s) decision was wrong,” he said.
He said that Maistry could make a fresh bail application should there be new issues that would change the circumstances.