Durban - The defence team for murder accused business tycoon Rajive Soni was successful in its application to recall four state witnesses, with Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Jacqui Henriques making her ruling on Monday.
The judge ordered that the four witnesses, being Mariamma Kisten, Sabelo Dlamini, Sugen Naidoo and Professor Sithebe, be recalled for cross-examination by Soni’s new legal team, criminal law heavyweights advocates Christo van Schalkwyk, SC, and Jimmy Howse.
Judge Henriques ruled that the evidence adduced during the “trial-within-a-trial” portion of the case, in which the admissibility of a cellphone recording of Soni by Sithebe was challenged, be imported into the main trial.
The judge also ordered that all cross-examination of these witnesses must be relevant and not previously canvassed by Soni’s former advocate, Naren Sangham.
Soni is on trial for prominent local doctor Bhavish Sewram’s murder.
Sewram, 33, was gunned down outside his Chota Motala Road surgery on May 13, 2013.
It is alleged that Soni orchestrated Sewram’s murder after discovering that the doctor was allegedly having an affair with his wife, Kerusha.
It is alleged that Soni paid former policeman Brian Treasurer to commit the murder.
Treasurer, in turn, secured the services of Mfaniseni Nxumalo and Sabelo Dlamini (the eventual triggerman) to kill Sewram.
Treasurer, Nxumalo and Dlamini are all currently serving sentences in prison for their roles in the murder.
The state also alleges that Soni involved himself in a vengeful campaign against Sewram, which included various assaults on him, as well as the laying of false charges against the doctor.
Testifying for the second time, Kisten confirmed on Monday that she was approached by one Darryl Gounden to lay a false charge of sexual assault against Sewram.
She said she knew Gounden was a policeman, and was a friend of her husband.
Kisten said she realised that laying a false charge of a sexual nature against someone was “very wrong”, but she was in a financially difficult spot, and needed the money.
Gounden told her that he needed this done for a friend who was willing to pay R30 000 to “embarrass” the doctor, and have him “locked up”.
“I didn’t want to do it, but my husband and Gounden persuaded me to,” she said.
Kisten said she went to Sewram’s surgery in February 2012 complaining of a headache, as she was told to do.
Immediately thereafter she went to the police station where she made a statement that, while examining her, Sewram touched her breasts in a way that made her feel uncomfortable.
Kisten said she was told by Gounden to say Sewram had touched her bare breasts, but she instead told the police he touched her “over the clothes”.
“I felt too guilty. I was really ashamed of myself and did not want the doctor to get arrested,” she said.
She said she was told that she had to lay the charge to “embarrass Sewram and get his name in the paper”.
She confirmed that she was paid “around R7 000” for laying the charge, and never received the R30 000 as promised.
When asked by Howse if she was aware she may have been a pawn, being used by the cops to extort money from Sewram, Kisten said she did not know.
Dlamini is expected to be recalled as a witness on Tuesday, while Naidoo is due to give further evidence on Wednesday.
The court heard on Monday that Sithebe was very ill and in hospital.
It is not known if he will be well enough to testify.