Desen Naidoo walking to court with a relative. Photo: SIYANDA MAYEZA


Durban - Umhlanga businessman Desen Naidoo, who was convicted of culpable homicide for a horror crash seven years ago in which an Effingham father was killed, says he is “remorseful”, although he has not apologised to the deceased’s family.

Naidoo, 39, was convicted of culpable homicide in April related to a 2007 crash in which Mervin Sugreem died.

Naidoo was expected to be sentenced in the Durban Regional Court on Tuesday, but after hearing arguments, magistrate Thomas Nhleko adjourned the matter for pre-sentencing reports to be prepared.

The businessman was initially charged with murder but Nhleko convicted him of culpable homicide as he said the State had not proved he intended to kill Sugreem.

The State alleged Naidoo was speeding in a 70km/h zone when his car, a modified Chevrolet Lumina, hit Sugreem’s VW Polo at the intersection of North Coast and Effingham roads. Sugreem was flung out of his vehicle and died instantly. The impact was so severe that the Polo was ripped in two.

Naidoo’s car, which had a supercharger, then smashed into a brick wall.

On Tuesday, Naidoo’s advocate Jimmy Howse argued that his client was remorseful but had not spoken to the deceased’s family because of the “acrimonious” atmosphere created when he was charged with murder. “He wants me to tell the court and the deceased’s family that he is remorseful and wishes that it never happened.”

Howse said Naidoo received threatening texts after the crash and opened a case at the Durban North police station. He was advised by his legal team not to speak to the deceased’s family, who have attended every day of the trial.

On Tuesday, the dead man’s wife, Shamin, and her family sat at the back of the public gallery while Naidoo’s wife, Debbie, relatives and family friends sat across from them.

Howse said a sentence of a suspended jail term, fine or correctional supervision would be suitable because Naidoo was not entirely to blame for the crash. He said Sugreem had driven into Naidoo’s path and he had not worn a seatbelt.

He also said Naidoo, who is a father of two and has been married for 17 years, suffered severe injuries as a result of the crash and did not drive for a year afterwards.

He added that a mandatory suspension of Naidoo’s licence due to his conviction would hamper his auto engineering business. “For the past seven years he has been driving without incident. He needs to use his vehicle for his business.”

Naidoo testified that he drove to rural areas for business but conceded that he could hire a driver.

State prosecutor Krishen Shah said the court should impose a “robust” sentence because Sugreem had died. He said if Naidoo was truly remorseful he could have apologised to the deceased’s family after he was convicted.

The case was adjourned to August.

The Mercury