Durban - The man accused of conspiring to kill his wife told the Durban High Court on Thursday that he did not call the police after receiving an SMS from his stepdaughter telling him not to come home because they were being robbed.
Inderesan “Alvin” Maistry told Acting Judge Burt Laing he thought Rohaena Naidoo, his stepdaughter, and his wife, Soraya “Charmaine” Naidoo, were pranking him.
Instead, he went to another address first, thinking they were there, before going to their Merebank home.
Under cross-examination by state advocate Nadira Moosa, the court learnt that Maistry had three cellphones and that one of the numbers used in his third cellphone logged 240 calls to his co-accused, Mandlenkosi Jobe, between January 3 and February 20, last year.
Maistry first told the court these were all business-related calls and then said some were calls to “chit chat”. Jobe testified earlier this week to them not having a social relationship.
Naidoo was murdered in February last year after she had been taken at gunpoint from her home during a robbery. Her body was found in uMbumbulu. She had been strangled and stabbed.
Maistry, and his co-accused, Bongani Manyathi and Jobe, have pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder, kidnapping and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
It is alleged Maistry had planned the murder and hired Jobe to assist him. Jobe then allegedly hired Manyathi and another man, Sifiso Joyisa, to carry out the crimes.
Joyisa last year pleaded guilty to Naidoo’s murder and was sentenced to 40 years in jail.
In his plea, he said Jobe had hired him and Manyathi to kill Naidoo, but said Maistry had been “the boss” who had ordered the murder.
In his evidence in chief on Thursday, Maistry, a manager at the Department of Labour before his arrest, listed the number of businesses he owned with his wife, but said she was in full control of them all.
In February, they opened a superette in Wentworth. At their 9pm closing time, he said that Naidoo had left in her Tata Indica with her daughter and siblings and he had left separately in his Mercedes-Benz with Naidoo’s brother.
While running errands with his brother-in-law, he received the SMS from Rohaena telling him they were being robbed and not to come home.
He said a few seconds later, she called him saying they were robbed and they had taken her mother. He said the call was cut after he told her to let them take what they wanted.
He tried calling her back and so did his brother-in-law. He said he thought they were being robbed at Indore Road, where his wife was going to first stop before going home, so they went there.
“I didn’t see her car parked on the road. I stopped at the house, hooted and waited 30 seconds. No one came out so I drove home,” Maistry testified.
He said it took between seven to 10 minutes to arrive home and not more than an hour as Rohaena had earlier testified.
He described driving around for hours afterwards looking for his wife and that the neighbours had called the police.
When Moosa asked him if he tried calling his wife after being told she was kidnapped, he said he could not remember.
She put it to him that the story about stopping at Indore Road because he believed the robbery was actually there was not true and that he must have known the robbery was at his house. Maistry denied this.
He said the cellphone calls made to Jobe that night were about seeking help and that he was not the only person called. He denied the allegation that the calls were about the robbery at his house.
Maistry said he had met Jobe in 2011 through a mutual friend and had kept in contact ever since, but the contact was all business related. The trial was adjourned to October 12.