Great granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi sentenced to 7 years in prison over fraud and forgery case in South Africa


South Africa
Picture Courtesy: The Indian Express
Picture Courtesy: The Indian Express

A Durban court sentenced a 56-year-old Mahatma Gandhi's great-granddaughter to seven years in prison for her role in a six-million rand fraud and forgery case.

On Monday, the court found Ashish Lata Ramgobin guilty.

She was charged with scamming businessman SR Maharaj after he loaned her R6.2 million for allegedly clearing import and Customs duties on a non-existent package from India. He was guaranteed a piece of the pie.

The Durban Specialised Commercial Crime Court also denied Lata Ramgobin, the daughter of prominent rights advocates Ela Gandhi and the late Mewa Ramgobind, leave to appeal both the conviction and the punishment.

Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said when the trial against Lata Ramgobin began in 2015 that she allegedly presented false invoices and documentation to convince potential investors that three containers of linen were being carried in from India.

Lata Ramgobin was released on a 50,000 rand bail at the time.

Lata Ramgobin met Maharaj, director of the New Africa Alliance Footwear Distributors, in August 2015, the court was told during the hearing on Monday.

Clothing, linens, and footwear are imported, manufactured, and sold by the corporation. Maharaj's firm also lends money to other businesses on a profit-sharing basis. Lata Ramgobin had informed Maharaj that she had brought three containers of linen into the country for the NetCare Hospital Group in South Africa.

"She indicated she was having financial difficulty paying for import expenses and customs, and she needed the money to clear the products at the port," Natasha Kara, an NPA spokesperson, said on Monday.

"He (Maharaj) was informed that she required R6.2 million. She presented him what she claimed was a signed purchase order for the goods to persuade him. She gave him what seemed to be a NetCare invoice and delivery note later that month as proof that the goods had been delivered and payment was on the way "she stated

According to Kara, Lata Ramgobin "further emailed him confirmation from NetCare's bank account that payment had been made."

Maharaj had entered into a contractual arrangement with Ramgobin for the loan based on her family credentials and NetCare paperwork.

Maharaj, on the other hand, filed criminal charges after discovering that the documents were fabricated and that NetCare had made no agreement with Lata Ramgobin.

Ramgobin was the creator and executive director of the International Centre for Non-Participative Violence's Development Initiative, where she defined herself as "an activist with a focus on environmental, sociological, and political issues."

Kirti Menon, the late Satish Dhupelia, and Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie, Lata Ramgobin's relatives, are among the descendants of Mahatma Gandhi who are human rights campaigners.

Ela Gandhi, Ramgobin's mother, has received international recognition for her efforts, winning national awards from both India and South Africa.

Publish : 2021-06-08 10:19:00

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