Rajivee Soni is on trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court for the murder of Dr Bhavish Sewram. Picture: Shan Pillay
DURBAN - Pietermaritzburg businessman Rajivee Soni said that senior police officials tried to extort money from him to make a case against him “go away”.

Soni, 43, was on Wednesday testifying in the Pietermaritzburg High Court. He is accused of paying off hit men to kill Raisethorpe doctor Bhavish Sewram in May 2013.

Soni’s co-accused, Brian Treasurer, Mfaniseni Nxumalo and Sabelo Dlamini, have already been convicted for their roles in Sewram’s murder.

Soni believed that his wife, Kerusha, and Sewram were involved in a romantic relationship.

According to the indictment, Soni tried many times to tarnish Sewram’s name in the community.

In February 2012, Soni allegedly conspired with a woman to see Sewram at his surgery.

Soni then apparently paid the woman to lay a charge of sexual assault against Sewram after the visit.

He is accused of doing the same thing in August 2012. Sewram was arrested both times, but the charges were later withdrawn.

The State alleges that in October 2012, Soni hired two people to shoot at Sewram using high-powered paintball guns with solid projectiles. Sewram sustained multiple superficial abrasions and was left with bruises.

It is further alleged that after Soni’s previous attempts failed, he offered a man R100000 to kill Sewram. However, the man told Sewram of the plan.

Soni then allegedly spoke to Treasurer, a former policeman, who accepted the offer and approached Nxumalo and Dlamini.

According to Soni, two weeks after Sewram’s murder, he was contacted by a colonel at the Mountain Rise police station who told him that he (Soni) was implicated in Sewram’s murder.

“I told him that I had nothing to do with Sewram’s murder. He told me that I would be contacted by his man, a captain at the station. A few days later, the captain called me and arranged to meet with me. We met and he, too, told me I was implicated in the murder. He said there were also lots of stories going around and it would cost a lot of money for me to get out of this. I asked how was I implicated. The policeman said he would contact me another time. He then left,” said Soni.

A few days later, the captain apparently made contact with Soni to meet. The pair met, but this time, Soni said, the captain ordered him to get into his car and they drove to another parking area of a shopping mall where they met the senior police official who first contacted Soni.

“He got into the car and sat at the back. The captain then drove off. The colonel told me he had serious information about the murder. I said I did not understand why I needed to pay any monies to anyone because I had nothing to do with Sewram’s murder. I asked to be dropped off as I did not want anything to do with this,” said Soni.

By August 2013, Soni’s trial had begun and the captain apparently again came to see him. Soni said he told the captain he could not speak to him because the captain was a State witness.

“He met me at one of my building sites and said he had more information about the case that was going to help me.

“He asked me to give him money for his daughter’s varsity fees. Initially, he asked for R50000. He said in exchange, he would give a statement on how police were investigating the matter. At this stage, I had found out that he was a warrant officer and not a captain. He told me to think about what he had said and left.”

Soni then asked Judge Jacqueline Henriques for a short adjournment because he was not feeling well. He was taken to a pharmacy and then a doctor for stomach problems.

His sister accompanied him to the doctor. She returned to say that Soni was referred to a doctor. Henriques adjourned the matter until Friday.

Daily News