Ruwain Meer and Priyen Naidu in court. Naidu’s appeal saw his sentence lengthened.

Durban - Durban killer Priyen Naidu’s bid to avoid a lengthy prison term has backfired badly.

Not only did the Durban businessman lose his appeal against his murder conviction and sentence handed down almost four years ago, but he now has to reconcile himself with spending the rest of his life in jail.

Following a recent ruling by the Provincial Appeal Court to dismiss his appeal and toughen his sentence to two life terms, the former businessman has surrendered himself to Westville Prison.

He had also tried, unsuccessfully, to have his bail extended to attend his father’s funeral last month, but this, too, was denied.

His advocate, Jimmy Howse, and attorney, Yugan Naidu, had tried to have Naidu, 38, released from prison for a few hours, stating that as the only child to his parents, he needed to attend a ceremony for which his father’s ashes were being kept.

However, Judge Graham Lopes ruled that since four judges in the Provincial Appeal Court had dismissed his appeal, the likelihood of Naidu being a flight risk had changed.

“I have sympathy for the fact that he not only lost his father, but was unable to attend his funeral. This was a consequence of his imprisonment,” the judge said. 

“Standing alone, the desire to attend to the religious ceremonies required by his faith does not provide a reason to grant bail.”

In July 2014, Naidu was convicted of the murders of his business partner, Zainul Fakir and Fakir’s nephew, Akbar Sudhoona,

Fakir, 37, and Sudhoona, 27, of Chatsworth, were shot in their heads twice after they were assaulted in Sherwood on May 14, 2009.

Fakir’s body was found in the front seat of his vehicle and Sudhoona’s in the boot.

Naidu and his accomplice, Ruwain Meer, 41, were each handed a life sentence and a concurrent 20-year sentence by Judge Mohini Moodley.

Meer did not appeal but Naidu did and was granted bail and leave to appeal by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The second-highest court in the land directed the Provincial Appeal Court to hear the appeal.

The provincial judges recently not only dismissed the appeal but increased one of Naidu’s sentences (20 years in prison) to life, meaning he now has two life terms.

During the trial, the motive for the double murder was unclear. 

It emerged that Fakir had wanted to end his business partnership with Naidu and that Sudhoona was eliminated because he was a witness.

The court had heard that Naidu, of Broadlands, and Meer, of Bonella, had left a “cocaine party” in Durban North which they had organised and which Naidu had paid for.

It was during that period that Fakir and Sudhoona were lured to Sherwood.

Naidu has apparently refused to accept his fate as determined now by the Provincial Appeal Court. 

He has made a special appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Howse claims that the trial court and the provincial judges had placed too much emphasis on the evidence of accomplice witness Vinesh Gunpath.

Howse said Gunpath had lied to the police and that the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Sujith Rohit, that Naidu had blood on his hands.

Moreover, it was not proven that Naidu was at the crime scene and had acted in common purpose, Howse claimed.