Shooting: cheating man walks
FREE: Court rules self defence
RASHIKA Bhagwandin has stood by the man who cheated on her for four years.
And yesterday she was by his side when he was acquitted of murdering a love rival in December 2010.
Pietermaritzburg businessman Larry Bhagwandin (39) walked out of court a free man, expressing joy but also remorse for the death of his former employee Ray Paul (28).
Regional court magistrate, Nomcebo Zondi, accepted in her judgment that Bhagwandin — who was represented by advocate Gideon Scheltema, SC — acted in self defence when he shot Paul during a fight.
It happened two months after Paul found out about Bhagwandin’s four-year affair with his wife, Kerusha.
Paul’s parents, Ruth and Patrick, said they could not forgive their son’s killer for what he had done.
Bhagwandin was supported at court by family members, including Rashika, who said she’d forgiven her husband’s infidelity, as they have three children to consider.
His sister, Geetha Singh, said although her brother was acquitted, his freedom “didn’t come easy”.
“He went through a lot. His bail conditions stipulated that he couldn’t live in Pietermaritzburg, so he had to leave his family, he lost his business and he is very remorseful for what he did,” she said.
But for Paul’s parents, this was cold comfort.
A bitter Ruth Paul said Bhagwandin “has a nerve” to say he is sorry for what he did.
“My son is dead and his daughter, now eight, will grow up without a father … He [ Bhagwandin] was the one who had an affair and while my son was working he was jolling with his wife. Now he wants to say sorry. Nothing can bring my son back,” she said angrily.
Her husband said the police investigation was not good enough, even though the prosecutor did his best.
“We believe there were witnesses who failed to come forward because they were afraid of victimisation,” Patrick Paul said.
In his evidence at his trial, Bhagwandin admitted he’d had a long-standing extramarital affair with Paul’s wife. At the time, Paul was employed by him at his business, N & N New & Used Tyre Warehouse in Allandale, as a tyre fitter.
Bhagwandin said two months before the shooting Paul found out and resigned.
Bhagwandin thereafter employed Kerusha as a cashier and manager at the business.
On the day in question he and Kerusha were on oppo- site sides of a desk in an office when a “very angry” Paul rushed in and attacked him with what appeared to be a small “blade”.
Bhagwandin was “shocked” by Paul’s sudden appearance and tried to ward off the “strikes” which were directed at his upper body.
He sustained a cut on his neck during the fracas.
He told the court when he drew his gun from an ankle holster and shot Paul as he lunged at him, he had thought Paul was going to kill him.
The court accepted that Paul had been the aggressor that day, and Zondi said the state wasn’t able to counter Bhagwandin’s evidence that he had feared Paul.
“It was a very emotional situation and everything happened rapidly in a small confined space. Taking into account all the evidence the court has no reason to reject the version of the accused [Bhagwandin] that he believed he was in danger and acted in self defence when he fired [at Paul],” the magistrate said.
Kerusha was not in court for the judgment.
Larry Bhagwandin and his sister Geetha Singh after he was acquitted of murder yesterday.