An Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital neurosurgeon has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder. According to a Sunday Tribune report, Dr Anand Rapiti, 43, allegedly hired one of his patients to kill his brother-in-law, who is also a doctor at the facility. However, the plan backfired when the hit man alerted police. The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) responded, and Rapiti was arrested at the hospital on 18 December.
Rapiti spent Christmas in Westville Prison and was granted R5,000 bail when he appeared before magistrate Kevin Bruorton at the Durban Magistrate’s Court.
The report says police allege that Rapiti talked Desmond Maneveldt into having Dr Melvin Naidu murdered during consultations at the hospital. On one occasion, according to a source who asked not to be named, Rapiti, who is an avid hunter, suggested to Maneveldt that Naidu be invited to a hunting outing where his accidental death could be staged. “Rapiti also said to Maneveldt that he must cut off Naidu’s toes,” said the source. Instead, Maneveldt tipped off police.
Rapiti said he intended pleading not guilty to the charge he faced. He told the court he used prescription drugs for epilepsy, suffered from major depression, and required consultations with psychiatrists and needed medication for his insomnia. Rapiti said every two weeks he needed an injection to treat his hormone imbalance. Prosecutor Mohamed Riaz Hoosen said the State would not oppose Rapiti’s bail application because of his medical conditions and that his personal details were verified.
The report says Hoosen also read out a statement written by Hawks investigating officer Benedict Chonco that provided the background to the charge Rapiti faced. Chonco said Rapiti approached Maneveldt about having Naidu killed in October. “Maneveldt agreed to do the job because Rapiti told him that there was an ex-military person also arranging a hit man from the Glebelands hostel. So he realised that if he did not take it and alert police, an innocent person would be killed,” reasoned Chonco.
Maneveldt received R10,000 from Rapiti, which he handed to Chonco, and stored as evidence. Chonco said three undercover operations were conducted where audio and video recordings were gathered from the meetings between Rapiti and Maneveldt, who also received a further R25,000 as payment.
“When arrested, Rapiti believed the murder was still going ahead, the arrest was just a delay, and Maneveldt was introducing him to the hit man.” Choco said Rapiti made several calls to Maneveldt, asking about the delay, some of which were recorded.
“Conducting of the investigation was confined to gathering affidavits, documents and information furnished on a voluntary basis and under subpoena. It had to be kept confidential and conducted without Rapiti’s knowledge in order to collect video and audio recordings,” said Chonco.
According to the report, Chonco requested that if bail was granted, Rapiti, his family or friends refrain from contacting the State’s witnesses. “Desmond Maneveldt told me that Rapiti’s mother’s brother had been calling him and intimidating him. I immediately contacted Rapiti’s lawyer about his family threatening witnesses.
He also asked that Rapiti not go anywhere near Dr Naidu’s residence, a complex in uMhlanga. Chonco informed the court that Naidu contacted him and pleaded that he not contest bail, for the sake of his wife. Naidu is married to Rapiti’s sister Nadine, who is also a doctor. “The reason for Naidu’s request was Rapiti’s medical condition and fears that if something happened to the bail applicant, there would be no peace at home,” said Chonco.
In granting bail, magistrate Bruorton said he considered Rapiti’s health, employment, Chonco’s statement and Naidu’s request. “The alleged victim (Naidu) in this matter himself is not opposed to your release, based on the fact that he’s married to your sister, and this is the reason he doesn’t want you to be incarcerated further.”
The report says as part of the conditions, he reiterated that Rapiti and others should not interfere or threaten witnesses and that he should report to Durban North police station once a week.
KZN Health’s acting head of department, Dr Musa Gumede, said they were “shocked and dismayed” at the allegations against Rapiti and would allow the legal process to take its course. An internal inquiry would also be conducted. Gumede said if Rapiti was found guilty, the matter would also be reported to the Health Professions Council of South Africa, to take the appropriate steps.Sunday Tribune report