In a startling twist to the murder investigation of slain former eThekwini councillor Sunil Brijmohan, a suspect, apparently a Hare Krishna devotee, has now been arrested in connection with the killing.
In October last year, Brijmohan (46), who was a former ANC councillor for Isipingo and the northern parts of Amanzimtoti from 2016 to 2021, was walking in Cato Crescent in Amanzimtoti when he was shot dead by two unknown suspects.
In December, detectives made a breakthrough in the case with the arrest of four suspects. The four men were recently convicted and sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment. It is believed they have since turned state witness.
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According to KwaZulu-Natal National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara, Vikash Brian Sewnath was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, as well as unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
She said Sewnath made a brief appearance in court and the case was remanded to November 27 for a formal bail application.
A large crowd of onlookers who gathered to watch Sewnath being escorted into the Umlazi Magistrate’s Court jeered him as he walked with his legs shackled in irons.
Ramkisson-Kara said the state will oppose bail.
Sewnath, who is said to have been Brijmohan’s driver, was arrested on Saturday. At the time of the killing, CCTV footage which was widely shared on social media showed Brijmohan being dropped off at a construction site in Cato Crescent that he supervised. The two suspects shot him in the head at point-blank range and then walked away from the scene.
The latest twist in the case has evoked outrage in the community and from friends and family of the murdered former politician.
A close friend of Brijmohan’s, Previn Vedan still recalls vividly the events of the day he died.
I just got out of the shower and someone sent me a link where I watched a gunman shooting [Brijmohan] in the head. It was horrific. His death still affects me to this day. I am thankful to the police for the efforts put in.
“There was a lot of speculation, but the police immediately began the investigation. I really appreciate that the matter is going forward. We still have to wait for answers. The family needs closure. Nothing can replace his presence, but as long as we know what had happened, we can make peace,” he said.
Vedan added that he and Brijmohan had been close when they were both young councillors in eThekwini.
“I learnt a lot from him. He taught me a lot about how the system worked. We were friends. We spent a lot of time together and when we left the council, we maintained our friendship,” he said.
Vedan said Brijmohan was committed to his community.
In his community, there wasn’t a single person who didn’t know him. He was the person you phoned first, the person you reached out to. People loved him. He could appeal to young people [and] older people. He treated everyone equally.
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As news of the latest arrest spread, many commentators took to social media to express outrage over the killing.
“These [killers] don’t deserve to be in society,” said Viran Singh.
“Sunil was such a dear friend, colleague and comrade and I have known his family for so many years now. It was and is such a huge loss for us as a community. We can never replace him or get another like him. [The accused] must be denied bail now, but we want the truth of why he did what he did,” said Melissa Jay Moodley.
Other social media commentators said they were shocked that Sewnath was arrested and charged with the murder as he was known to be a self-proclaimed Hare Krishna devotee.
The Hare Krishna movement is a branch of Hinduism where devotees adhere to a strong spiritual code and are strictly vegetarian.