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RIZWANA SHEIK UMAR
Convicted fraudster Visham Panday, who was arrested this week after being on the run for five months, claims that he evaded court because his life was in danger.
Panday, 32, was expected to appear at the Durban Regional Court in February this year on one count of fraud for allegedly posing as a doctor in 2009, and saying he would provide a US visa and green card to a woman for employment overseas.
He allegedly persuaded the woman to invest her life savings of about R450 000 in his business.
Panday first appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court in December where he was granted bail of R25 000.
He was re-arrested in Ballito on the day of his release for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Vanishree Naidoo.
His bail was revoked pending an inquiry. At the inquiry, a possible State witness, investigating officer Warrant Officer Stephen Andrew Gous, said that Panday was a risk because he had absconded from justice for eight years over several matters in Pietermaritzburg.
Panday was convicted of fraud earlier this year and fined R500 000. He was also given a five-year jail term suspended for five years, according to a plea-bargain agreement with the State.
The fraudster denied the assault and argued that he was never told that he was forbidden to leave Durban.
His bail was reinstated and his bail conditions were amended to extend the jurisdiction to the KZN district.
Panday was expected to appear in court on February but absconded, and a warrant for his arrest was issued. Earlier this week Panday was arrested by the Pietermaritzburg Hawks.
Yesterday his attorney, Shaheen Seedat, told the court that his client wished to testify that he absconded from court because his life was threatened.
State prosecutor Danette Cole applied for a new bail hearing to be scheduled.
The bail application will be heard on Monday (July 23).