By IOL Reporter Jan 23, 2021
A DURBAN man accused of the murder of his make-up artist girlfriend because she ended their relationship, was eventually granted bail this week.
Ebrahim Chohan, 37, was granted R10 000 bail at the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
He has been charged with the murder of Sherne Pillay, 27, a mother of a young child from a previous relationship.
According to police, Pillay was packed and was ready to leave the Morningside flat she shared with Chohan.
Her body was found lying in the bathroom of the flat, with a cable tie fastened around her neck, and other injuries.
When Chohan eventually gained access to the bathroom, he moved Pillay’s body to their bedroom and cut off the cable tie.
Presiding magistrate Mike Lasich indicated the State had not presented a strong enough case to prevent Chohan from being granted bail.
The State’s case was that Pillay was last seen in the company of Chohan at their flat on November 28.
He apparently moved in and out of the flat on the day, and they were also spotted at a local restaurant but were apparently “not loving towards each other”.
Having moved Pillay’s body to the bedroom, the State believes that Chohan thereby tampered with the crime scene, instead of immediately alerting police about her death.
They also claimed that Chohan was slow to react when he realised Pillay was in the bathroom for a long while, and the mess in the bedroom was indicative of a “struggle”.
In opposing bail, the State raised that gender-based violence was a scourge in society and the court needed to make a statement.
They told the court that Chohan’s ex-wife took out a protection order against him.
Another concern by the State was that Chohan could interfere with witnesses who are known to him.
The State accused the father with tampering with the crime scene and interfering with witnesses.
The State also pointed out that the Chohan had previous convictions and pending cases, had no fixed address, no fixed assets, no children and could “easily disappear” if released.
Chohan recently engaged law firm Roy Singh Attorneys to secure bail, and their representative in court, Advocate Louis Barnard, handed in an affidavit to support his bail application.
Chohan promised to live with his elderly parents at their Overport home if his bail application was successful.
While he was presently unemployed, Chohan’s family have since secured employment for him, which he hoped to take-up.
He mentioned that he had strong Durban family ties, no relatives outside the country and was prepared to surrender his passport.
Chohan said due to his chronic health condition, he also relied on State facilities to receive some of his medication, which further bound him to Durban.
Chohan insisted he had no involvement in the death of Pillay and intended pleading not guilty.
He has had previous run-ins with the law (fraud, theft and malicious injury to property convictions) and a pending drug possession charge, which has been provisionally withdrawn as further evidence is awaited.
He said his previous convictions were all over 10 years old, and his pending matter did not involve violence.
Chohan said he always honoured the bail conditions of each matter previously, and will do likewise in this instance.
Barnard also provided an affidavit from Chohan’s ex-wife, who confirmed he had never been violent towards her during the course of their marriage.
Barnard stated that they did not challenge the strength of the State’s case. “However, if that is the evidence, then it is non existent.”
About Chohan interfering with witnesses, Barnard said they don’t know who they are.
“There is no evidence of anyone seeing him doing anything, but there is a suspicion.”
On Chohan’s father “snooping around”, Barnard said if that was so, his client has been in custody and cannot be blamed.
Barnard said there was “no substance” to the State’s claim that Chohan would “disappear”.
“The father indicated that he would care for his son if bail is granted.
A case has been made out for bail to be granted with the obvious conditions,” Barnard said.
Lasich concurred the State relied on “circumstantial evidence” in opposing bail.
“The State opposes bail on a number of reasons, but quite frankly most of are without foundation.
“At the end of the day it is his (Chohan’s) constitutional right to bail and is innocent until proven guilty.
“I want to stress that bail must never be seen as punishment.”
Lasich said he considered the facts before making his decision and while there seems to be strong suspicion against Chohan, it was not overwhelming.
He adjourned the matter until March 26.