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IT was suggested in the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court yesterday that the death of 20-year-old Juran Raman on a nightclub dance floor last year was an accident.
Sherwin Cara (21) pleaded not guilty yesterday to a charge of murder and denied he was in any way responsible for Raman’s death in the early hours of March 26 last year.
Cara admitted that he had approached Raman and told him to leave his sister, Melanie, alone, as he’d been “troubling” her and her friend on the dance floor.
He alleged in a statement — read to magistrate Fikile Luvuno by his advocate, Gideon Scheltema SC — that Raman unexpectedly lunged at him and struck his hand, which was holding a glass tumbler full of whisky and ice.
The tumbler shattered on the floor “with a big bang”, he said.
“The deceased seemed to lose his footing or balance, causing him to fall to the floor. At this stage I did not have a clear view … The deceased staggered to his feet and I noticed blood spurting from his neck area. I picked up a broken piece of the glass tumbler in order to prevent someone stepping onto it. I did not assault the deceased in any manner whatsoever and I am not responsible for his death,” he said.
The incident took place in the Vacca Matta nightclub in the Golden Horse Casino.
Cara said he was buying a drink when he had noticed Raman, “who appeared to be drunk” involved in an incident with his sister, Melanie, on the dance floor.
“My sister’s friend, Preshane Tayob, thereupon became involved in a physical altercation with [Raman],” he said.
He said that after buying the drink he approached Raman and told him to leave his sister alone. That was when the incident occurred.
The case has attracted a large crowd of onlookers, many of them supporters of Raman — who was hailed as a promising young cricketer — and his family, wearing T-shirts and carrying posters calling for “Justice for Juran”.
Testifying for the state, the head of security at Vacca Matta, Tatenda Kahlari, said he was supervising the cashing up around 4 am when he “heard a loud cracking sound of glass”.
He ran towards the sound on the dance floor and saw one of his men already on the scene holding Raman, who was bleeding from his neck.
“My guy pointed … at the accused [Cara] who was standing there with another gentleman … In his [Cara’s] hand was the weapon [a broken glass].”
“I said. ‘What the f***?’ His reply to me as he was back-pedalling was: ‘He was f***ing around with my sister’.”
Kahlari said he had observed a bit of blood on the broken glass and on Cara’s hand. While escorting Cara from the scene he hid the broken glass under a couch as he was afraid it would be “lost in all the commotion”.
Kahlari agreed under cross-examination that he had not been able to find any eye witnesses to the incident.
Golden Horse Casino duty manager Scott Bekker said that while he was monitoring the cashing up in the bar area, he’d noticed an Indian man and a coloured girl dancing.
A “tall Indian man”, who was later identified as Raman, was dancing next to them, and he saw an argument start between the two men.
Bekker told a bouncer, Rishi, to see what was going on. Moments later he noticed Raman “swinging his hand and hitting a glass”.
Bekker ran to the dance floor, but when he got there other security officials were already on the scene. He saw a man he identified as Kahlari holding Raman, who was bleeding from the neck.
Bekker fetched a first-aid kit and kept pressure on the Raman’s wound until paramedics arrived.
Bekker testified that he had at no stage seen Raman falling to the ground.
The case is proceeding today.