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Durban - Even last-minute promises of a compensation payment from his wealthy family could not keep fraudster Visham Panday out of jail on Monday.
Panday was sentenced to an effective three-year jail term by Commercial Crime Court acting magistrate Melvin Govender.
Panday, who has been in custody for the past eight months after he skipped bail, was convicted of three counts of fraud in January.
He had posed as “Dr Calvin Naidoo” and told Durban woman Gladys Egling that he could help her emigrate to the US Egling testified that Panday had asked her for R485 000 to process her paperwork, but the trip did not materialise.
Panday claimed that the charges were part of a conspiracy orchestrated by the police to discredit him and his relative, Umhlanga millionaire and businessman, Thoshan, who was involved in a dispute with the police. Thoshan is charged with attempting to bribe a police officer.
On Monday, minutes before Govender could hand down his sentence, Thoshan called Panday’s attorney, Avinash Maharaj, and promised to provide R200 000 in compensation on Wednesday, with the remainder to follow later - if it would keep Panday out of jail.
Maharaj had told the court earlier in the proceedings that Panday could afford to pay Egling R5 000 a month for five years and a lump sum of R190 000 in the last month.
Both compensation deals were rejected by Egling, who testified that she wanted all the money in one payment.
“It is not acceptable. He has had my money for more than two years. I am almost at retirement age and I cannot go on working for another five years. I need the payment now. I cannot trust him; he has made promises before and then disappeared,” she said.
Govender said that the offer of R200 000 from Panday’s family made it clear that he would not be paying back Egling himself. “Punishment should be levelled towards the accused and not his family,” he said.
Panday also has a previous conviction for fraud. In 2003, he fled to India after he was charged with 45 counts of fraud. He only returned in 2010 after his lawyer negotiated a plea-bargain agreement for a non-custodial sentence. In 2011, he was given a suspended sentence and was ordered to pay a fine of R500 000.
Govender said Panday had a propensity to commit fraud and that the court had a duty to protect society. “He has no finances at this stage and there is no guarantee that he will be able to compensate the victim. He is not a suitable person to remain in society,” he said.
Panday is expected to make an application for leave to appeal against his conviction by next month.