- Rajivee Soni appealed his murder conviction for killing a Pietermaritzburg doctor.
- He accused Dr Bhavish Sewram of having an affair with his wife.
- Soni's sentence was reduced from 30 years to 23 years and seven months.
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on Wednesday shaved off six years of jail time for a businessman who murdered his former friend for allegedly having an affair with his wife.
Instead of spending 30 years in prison, Rajivee Soni will now spend an effective 23 years and seven months in jail, the SCA said in an electronic judgment.
Soni was in 2018 convicted in the Pietermaritzburg High Court for the murder of Dr Bhavish Sewram.
He was also convicted for defeating the course of justice, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and conspiracy to commit murder.
He was sentenced to an effective 30 years, but appealed his conviction.
In May 2013, Sewram was shot and killed outside his surgery in Raisethorpe, Pietermaritzburg.
Brian Treasurer, Sabelo Advocate Dlamini and Mfaniseni Wiseman Nxumalo were convicted of the killing, after which Soni's trial started.
Soni had hired the trio to kill Sewram after several incidents in which he antagonised the doctor.
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Soni, in one instance, conspired with a police officer to plant drugs at Sewram's surgery. The officer failed to plant the drugs and claimed his superiors were aware of the scheme. Soni still paid him.
Following his conviction, Soni was released on bail in March 2020, pending the SCA appeal verdict.
The SCA has now ruled that Soni be acquitted for defeating the course of justice and assault to cause grievous bodily harm.
The charge of conspiracy to commit murder was set aside and he was, instead, found guilty of an alternative charge of incitement to murder and sentenced to five years imprisonment.
"The appellant [Soni] persisted on exacting revenge on the deceased and ultimately conspired with and embarked on a campaign to kill the deceased, and which resulted in the cold-blooded murder of 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," the SCA said.
The court said Soni had already served about 17 months of the 30-year sentence before being released on bail, pending the outcome of the appeal.
"We are of the view that, in such circumstances, it would be just and equitable for the appellant to receive credit for the period already served, and that this be taken into account in determining the effective sentence.
"In doing so, we are mindful of the loss that the deceased's family have suffered."