Soni takes appeal to Concourt
IN A FINAL bid to evade jail time, Pietermaritzburg businessman Rajivee Soni is trying to appeal his conviction, in the highest court in the land.
Soni, who was convicted for the 2013 murder of his former friend, Dr Bhavish Sewram, lost his appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) last week.
But, refusing to give up, he has put forward a request for leave to appeal his conviction in the Constitutional Court.
He filed a Notice of Motion to the SCA through his attorney, Subhash Maikoo, in which he asked for an extension of his R400000 bail. He also asked that his bail conditions be retained.
“The Appellant shall lodge his application for leave to appeal with the Registrar of the Constitutional Court in accordance with the time limit prescribed by Rule19(2) of the Constitutional Rules of Court,” read the notice.
Maikoo submitted that if the application for leave to appeal was dismissed,
Soni would surrender himself to the registrar of the Pietermaritzburg High Court within three days of the decision.
In 2013, Soni, 45, ordered a hit on Sewram, a father of two, for allegedly having an affair with his wife.
He enlisted the help of a former policeman, Brian Treasurer, who hired Mfaniseni Nxumalo and Sabelo Dlamini to execute the killing.
In May that year, Sewram, 33, was gunned down outside his surgery in Raisethorpe, Pietermaritzburg.
Dlamini pleaded guilty to the murder and is serving 25 years in prison while Nxumalo is serving a life sentence.
Treasurer, who also got life, died in prison.
In 2018, Soni was convicted for murder, defeating the course of justice, assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and conspiracy to commit murder. He was subsequently sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.
He appealed his conviction and sentence at the SCA.
He spent 17 months in prison before being released on bail in March last year, pending the decision.
Last week, the SCA upheld the murder conviction but reduced Soni's sentence to 23 years and seven months.
He was acquitted of defeating the course of justice and assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm.
The conspiracy charge was set aside and, in the alternative, he was found guilty of incitement to murder and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
The SCA found submissions made by Soni that his sentence was shockingly inappropriate were not valid.
“It is important to bear in mind that the appellant persisted on exacting revenge on the deceased and ultimately conspired with and embarked on a campaign to kill the deceased… Never once did he shrink back from a campaign involving a number of schemes, and ultimately procured the murder of the deceased through the hands of hired assassins.
“He embarked on this conduct over a period of time until he avenged the deceased’s alleged affair with his wife, using corrupt policemen to do his bidding, and using money as a means to an end,” read the judgment.
Yuvadia Sewram, the deceased's wife, said the past eight years were difficult.
She said her daughter recently celebrated her 13th birthday and it was tough not having her father present to share in the day.
She said Soni's application for leave to appeal was part of an ongoing trend.
“At the end of the day, justice will prevail. I have all the faith in the criminal justice system. He can take it right to the Constitutional Court, he is entitled to do so.
“I feel that it’s time for him to repent, not to manipulate the system any further. He needs to see out his sentence honourably."
She said it upset her that Soni was allowed to see his children.
“It angers me that he still has his comforts. He is allowed to see children while my children can’t and will never see their father again.”