By- Khushi Bisht
In a six-million-rand defrauding case, Mahatma Gandhi’s great-granddaughter, Ashish Lata Ramgobin, was sentenced to seven years in prison by a South African court in Durban. She is the daughter of prominent peace activist Ela Gandhi and the late Mewa Ramgobind, both of whom were involved in revitalizing Gandhi’s Phoenix Settlement in South Africa during his presidency.
Ramgobin, 56, the founder and executive director of the Participative Development Initiative at the NGO International Centre for Non-Violence, was found guilty of scamming businessman SR Maharaj after he paid her R6.2 million in advance to clear import and customs fees on a shipment from India. Maharaj had been guaranteed a portion of the profits.
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Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) testified at the start of the trial in the case against Ramgobin in 2015 that she purportedly submitted phony bills and documentation to convince potential investors that three cartons of linen were being carried in from India. At the time, Lata Ramgobin was freed on a 50,000 rand bail.
According to court documents filed on Monday, Lata Ramgobin approached Mr. Maharaj in August 2015 and told him she had bought three linen cartons from India for the Netcare hospital group in South Africa. She also provided Maharaj proof that money had been paid from NetCare’s bank account.
“She advised him (Maharaj) that she needed R6.2 million. To convince him, she showed him what she claimed was a signed purchase order for the goods. Later that month, she sent him what seemed to be a NetCare invoice and delivery note as proof that the goods were delivered and payment was imminent,” said NPA spokesperson Natasha Kara on Monday.
Therefore, taking into account NetCare bank documentations and her family background, S.R Maharaj signed up for a legal contract with Ramgobin for the loan. However, after learning that the documentations were forged and that NetCare seemed to have no dealings with Ramgobin and after discovering that the package would not arrive in South Africa that Mr. Maharaj filed criminal charges against Ashish Lata Ramgobin.