May 10 2011
A calculating, cool manipulator of men, who played her husband like a pawn and watched as he throttled her former lover before she checked the dying man’s pulse.
Kalisha Rajcoomar and Amith Sewkarran in court.
That’s the “unusual and disturbing” picture of Kalisha Rajcoomar that the prosecution sought to create on Monday in the Pietermaritzburg High Court during arguments for sentencing of the convicted murder couple, Rajcoomar and her spouse, Amith Sewkarran.
State prosecutor Gert Nel, who is seeking life sentences for the two, also said Rajcoomar had settled for Sewkarran as “second prize”: the man she really loved, Sandesh Poorun, she had helped to kill.
The two will know their fate on May 17 when Judge Piet Koen delivers his sentence.
Rajcoomar, 24, and her husband, Sewkarran, 26, were convicted of Poorun’s murder in 2009 after pleading guilty.
Poorun, 26, who was the father of Rajcoomar’s three-year old daughter, was lured to a local inn, plied with alcohol and drugs, and then strangled.
His charred remains were found in a remote area of Crammond, outside Pietermaritzburg, a week after he had disappeared in February 2009.
The couple were visibly emotional in the dock yesterday as they listened to legal argument from the State and their defence counsel.
The highly anticipated conclusion of the trial comes two years after the couple were arrested for Poorun’s murder.
The couple claimed in their defence that they had been driven to kill Poorun because he had refused to accept their relationship and had constantly harassed, threatened and abused them, making their lives “impossible”.
State prosecutor Nel submitted yesterday that Rajcoomar was in constant conflict in her relationships, evident from the testimony that she shared an “on-again-off-again” relationship with Poorun and Sewkarran.
“As far as Rajcoomar was concerned, Poorun was her real love and Sewkarran was second prize.
“Rajcoomar’s marriage to Sewkarran was one of mere convenience, because Poorun had refused to marry her and she was dead set against being a single mother,” Nel said.
Nel did concede that Poorun had harassed the couple with phone calls and there were instances of physical altercations between them.
However, Nel submitted that the couple had not sought other alternatives to resolve the problem before they resorted to plotting Poorun’s murder and taking his life.
Nel submitted further that Sewkarran was merely a pawn in Rajcoomar’s game, that she had easily manipulated both him and Poorun.
He said the couple had planned the murder extensively over a period of time, giving them ample opportunity to reflect on their actions.
He described Rajcoomar as a “cool, calm, calculated person with nerves of steel”, saying it was extremely unusual and disturbing that she could watch Sewkarran strangle Poorun and then check Poorun’s pulse to see whether he was dead.
Nel said any sentence less than life would be too lenient and the message would be sent out that frustrated individuals could resort to murder to resolve conflict.
Nel argued that the elaborate clean-up after the murder, where the couple wiped down the body and then burnt it, and where Rajcoomar dismantled Poorun’s cellphone and then disposed of it, indicated the level of manipulation.
Rajcoomar’s advocate, Anand Pillay, submitted that Rajcoomar had confessed to the crime and had expressed remorse for her actions.
“There is no evidence to suggest that she was the master manipulator. Both accused are equally to blame,” Pillay said.
Auret van Heerden, Sewkarran’s advocate, said the love triangle that existed between Rajcoomar, Sewkarran and Poorun had comprised all the ingredients that had ultimately led to Poorun’s tragic death.
He said Sewkarran had an unassertive personality and was easily influenced by Rajcoomar, because of his overwhelming feelings of love towards her.
“He is still in love with her. He still believes that they will be together once they are out of prison.
To the normal person out there, this level of loyalty and blind faith may appear inconceivable,” Van Heerden said.
He said Sewkarran had admitted his role in the planning and execution of the murder, and had taken responsibility for his actions.
He was a pawn in Rajcoomar’s game and “danced to her tune”, Van Heerden said.