Durban - IN A BID to prevent an “innocent” man from being killed, a “hit man” claimed he played along with a Durban neurosurgeon who allegedly conspired to lure his brother-in-law to his death during a hunting trip and make it look like an accident.

Dr Anand Rapiti, 43, a senior neurosurgeon at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, was recently arrested by the Hawks and charged with conspiring to murder his brother-in-law, Melvin Naidu, who is also a doctor. He has been released on R5000 bail and is expected to return to court on January 15.

According to court papers, Rapiti allegedly tried to coax his patient, Desmond Maneveldt, to kill Naidu, who is married to Rapiti’s sister.

Maneveldt was being treated by Rapiti for a head injury. He claimed he played along with Rapiti but was working undercover with police at the same time.

In his affidavit, Hawks detective Warrant Officer Khwezi Benedict Chonco, said the alleged conspiracy took place in October last year.

“Maneveldt agreed to do the job because Rapiti told him there was an ex-military person also arranging a hit man from the Glebelands Hostel. He realised that if he did not take it and involve the police, an innocent person would be killed.”

Chonco said Maneveldt was paid R10000, which had been handed in as evidence.

Chonco said three undercover operations took place during meetings with Maneveldt and Rapiti where video and audio recordings were made. He said a further R25000 was paid to Maneveldt.

The Hawks arrested Rapiti at the hospital on December 18. “He was under the impression that Maneveldt was bringing one of his hit men for a meeting with him.”

A source close to the investigation said the killing was expected to take place during a hunting trip where Naidu was to be lured to his death, making it look like an accident.

“Rapiti loved to hunt buck at different farms and thought it was a brilliant plan to have Naidu killed in that way.”

Rapiti, who handed in a sworn affidavit through his legal representative, advocate Paul Jorgensen, admitted that he knew the witnesses, Naidu and Maneveldt.

He said he lacked the “intent or ability” to interfere with them or the investigation.

Rapiti, who is unmarried and lives with his mom in uMhlanga, said he suffered from epilepsy, major depression and insomnia, for which he took medication. “I also have a hormonal imbalance, for which I require an injection every two weeks.”

He said he planned to plead not guilty but promised not to evade standing trial.

Prosecutor Calvin Govender, who handled Rapiti’s first appearance, opposed bail, arguing that Naidu’s life would be in danger. However, Naidu requested that Rapiti not be incarcerated as he was his wife’s brother. Naidu is married to Rapiti’s sister Nadine, who is also a doctor.

Bail of R5000 was granted by magistrate Kevin Bruorton on condition that Rapiti not interfere with or threaten witnesses and that he report to the Durban North police station once a week.

Rapiti is said to have returned to work despite an internal inquiry being held.

DrMusa Gumede, acting head of the KZN Health Department, said they were dismayed at the allegations against Rapiti. “If Rapiti is found guilty in court, the matter would be reported to the Health Professions Council of SA to take the appropriate steps,” he said.