The affordable education loan option
Durban - It would seem Roy Govender is “Mr Untouchable”. “How else would he be able to get away with the torture and harassment he has subjected his family to for the past 40 years?” asks his ex-wife, Usha Maharaj.
Govender was due to appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court last Monday for allegedly breaching a protection order brought by Maharaj, but failed to show up and sent a doctor’s note instead.
Maharaj had taken out the order in 2010. The matter was postponed, but a date for the next hearing was not set.
“This is so frustrating. I have been let down by the very same systems that were meant to help me and my family. My life has been hell,” said Maharaj.
She claimed that warrants of arrest had been issued for Govender over several other charges, the majority of which relate to domestic abuse, but he had yet to be brought to book because he was “well connected”.
Govender has three ID books and goes by the aliases Malcolm Charles Govender and Pragalathan Govender.
However, he said this was because he had lost his ID book twice and had decided to change his name.
Govender was convicted of fraud in 2012 under the name Malcolm Charles Govender for defrauding Vikash Sewram.
Sewram paid him R160 000 when he claimed he was a lawyer and could assist him with the purchase of a vacant property. He received a five-year suspended sentence.
He also faces two current charges of fraud, one for leasing a property that wasn’t his to Marcus Govender, from the Govender’s House of Curries franchise, for R50 000, and the other for allegedly taking R1 million from Anusha Reddy in 2010.
It is alleged he told Reddy he was a lawyer and could assist her in paying off her business debt.
The rest of the charges are of intimidation and harassment opened by Maharaj and their daughter, Chantal.
One charge of harassment was opened by Maharaj’s younger sister and another by two social workers from the Department of Social Welfare, Pinetown, in 2010.
It is alleged that Govender tracked them down and threatened to burn down their homes and harm their children because they wouldn’t provide the address of the safe house where his wife was living.
After a year, Chatsworth SAPS claimed they were unable to locate him and no action was taken.
Maharaj said the systems meant to protect vulnerable women instead betrayed them.
“He should have been arrested a long time ago. Aside from the fraud charges against him, he has violated so many protection orders.
“But every time we contacted the police, we didn’t get assistance. Either they don’t come, or say they can’t find the files previously opened.
“It’s always some excuse from when I laid my first charge at the Pinetown Police Station in 1999.”
She said that, despite getting a divorce in 1988, she isn’t free.
“The harassment and torturing is not over. I stayed at five different safe houses over the years, and he found me at every one. I don’t know how, but he did.
“He knows where we stay currently. He has tried to break into the flat, broken down the door, threatened to shoot us with his gun.
“He parks outside the flat every day watching us. I want to speak out to help others who need the system to be fixed.”
She said they had been subjected to years of abuse at Govender’s hands.
“Roy shot my son in the leg when he was 12, saying it was an accident. He beat Chantal with a bottle when she was a teenager.”
Govender denied these allegations, saying he was a “family man that would do anything for my wife, children and grandchildren”.
Ex-wife: He is a monster
Usha Maharaj, 56, says she has been subjected to 40 years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her ex- husband, who tried to control every aspect of her life.
She says she died emotionally a long time ago and is just going through the motions of living.
“When I look at myself, it’s like a stranger looking back. I am emotionally damaged. I died a long time ago. I have faked living, this is what he has done to me,” she said.
Maharaj fell in love with the “bad boy” from her neighbourhood and eloped at 15.
She says the abuse started right after they moved in with his mother and four brothers.
“I would get the hiding of my life for anything. If anyone saw me talking to anyone or even at the beach, Roy would get jealous and beat me. I did try to run away, many times over the years but he would force me to go back.”
Their daughter Chantal was born in the first year of their marriage, and son Ryan a few years later.
“Roy had lots of girlfriends and was always going out. He would even bring them home and tell them I was his sister. I wasn’t allowed to visit my family or for my children to go on holidays.”
Maharaj said he collected her salary and kept her bank card.
Showing the large scar on her left arm, she said she needed 86 stitches after she got home late from work. “I was in a lift club and the ladies stopped to get something to eat. I was home 30 minutes late. He hit me in a rage and I fell into a mirror and had to get 86 stitches.
“Once Roy locked me and Chantal in the garage and fired shots randomly at us. My daughter was in high school when she got her first protection order against her father after he beat her.”
CASES AGAINST HIM…
1 CAS 414/8/2013: Govender tried to force his way into the flat and threatened to shoot his ex-wife with his firearm. She laid another charge for breach of her previous protection order. Govender allegedly tried to enter the flat a month later and threatened to shoot her again. She called the police but no one came.
Police response: Govender was charged after he was contacted by the investigating officer and told to present himself at the police station.
2 CAS 370/1/2013: His ex-wife opened a charge at Sydenham police station after Govender tracked her down and forced his way into her flat.
Police response: There was a discrepancy on the interdict between her married and maiden names.
3 CAS 286/11/ 2012: The adult daughter, Chantal, laid a charge of stalking, disrupting her at her place of work, and calling her office and cellphone repeatedly. She was able to obtain an interim protection order (1965/2012), and a warrant of arrest (J523E81/829600) was issued.
Police response: Chatsworth police received the order on November 15, 2012 and served the order on the same date on the respondent’s son, Ryan Govender, at the address furnished by the applicant on the order.
4 CAS 566/12/2012: While living at a women’s shelter, the ex-wife was admitted to a hospital on December 19, 2012, as she suffers from arthritis.
Her sister fetched her from the hospital on December 21, 2012 because Roy Govender was prowling the hospital wards. She was placed under private guard.
No police response.
5 PO 2446/12: A warrant of arrest was issued on January 10, 2013 for a breached protection order obtained by his sister-in-law in 2010. No warrant of arrest was effected.
Police response: An application was not received by Chatsworth police, and the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court cannot locate this file.
6 CAS 39/6/2010: Charges of harassment were opened by two social workers from the Department of Social Welfare, Pinetown. Govender allegedly tracked them down and threatened them. Chatsworth police reported that they were unable to locate him and no action was taken.
No police response.
7 CAS 22/6/2010: Govender’s sister-in-law opened a charge at Westville police station for stalking and threatening to run over her teenage daughter. A year later, Chatsworth police responded by claiming no such person lived at the residence in Chatsworth.
Police response: The reasons she withdrew the charge were that the police were unable to trace him and she was no longer interested in pursuing the matter.
8 PO 2446/12: A warrant of arrest was issued on January 10, 2013 for a breached protection order opened by Maharaj’s sister in 2010. No warrant of arrest was effected.
Police response: Application was not received by Chatsworth police, and Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court cannot locate this file.
** Roy Govender applied for a protection order, which was served on his ex-wife by Umbilo police.
In March 2013, the matter was dismissed by the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court.
How we were conned – victims speak out
Marcus Govender alleges he was defrauded of R50 000 after Roy Govender (no relation) approached his parents, who own Govender’s House of Curries in June.
“He said he was very sickly and couldn’t run his shebeen business from his home anymore and would like to lease it. We thought it was a good opportunity. He was very convincing.”
Govender allegedly paid him the R50 000 in cash for a three-year lease. He discovered afterwards that the business, which is run from Govender’s Chatsworth home, doesn’t belong to him.
“The property is his ex-wife’s and we haven’t been able to operate from there at all. I laid a charge at the Chatsworth Police Station. I am not sure what progress has been made with the case. When I last spoke to the investigating officer he said he was still investigating. I cannot afford to let this issue go,” he said.
Anusha Reddy claimed she used Govender’s services as an attorney to help settle her business debts, paying him over R1 million.
Reddy’s husband, who did not want to give his first name, said that the matter was with their attorney.
The Sunday Tribune has seen internet banking notices of payment from A Reddy to R Govender in varying amounts from R5 000 to R430 000 between May 2010 and July 2011.
Govender was convicted of fraud in 2011 under the name of Malcolm Charles Govender, and received a five-year suspended sentence. He defrauded Vikash Sewram of R160 000 by posing as an attorney.
A letter from Sewram’s lawyer to Malcolm Charles Govender states that Sewram met Govender in September 2007, while “you were wearing your hat as a representative of MC Govender and Associates”.
It further states Govender represented himself to Sewram as an attorney. The letter reads: “Our client advised you that he was interested in purchasing a vacant property with a view to erecting a dwelling thereon. You advised our client that you could assist him with this endeavour.
“Our client realised in August 2010 that you had no intention of procuring the transfer of the property into his name and had in fact hoodwinked him in this regard. It has also transpired that you are not a practising attorney.”
In a handwritten IOU signed by Pragalathan Govender on September 25, 2009, he acknowledges to “promise and arrangement (sic) to pay Mr David Setlo from Rivonia, Sandton an original payment of R106 000 less R40 000” for charges of alleged fraud. Charges would be withdrawn in lieu of payment.
It’s a binding legal document, which two witnesses signed.
Roy Govender has denied the allegations against him – including pretending to be an attorney.
In a lengthy interview with the Sunday Tribune on Saturday, Govender denied abusing or harassing his wife since 2010, and said he had been trying to help the people who opened fraud charges against him.
He described himself as a family man who “lives and works for my family”.
Govender said he was welcome at Maharaj’s flat, which she shares with her two children and grandchildren.
“I don’t stalk or harass her. I am welcome at their home. I was previously abusive but haven’t been since 2010. It is my sister-in-law aggravating things now. When Usha disappeared and was living in different shelters I didn’t track her down. Only once I went with my son Ryan and my grandchildren to one of the shelters because they wanted to see her. I waited in the car. That’s not stalking.”
He said he and Usha “were discussing getting back together”.
“But how can that happen if her sister is continuously discouraging her?”
He denied threatening social workers, saying if he had he would have been arrested.
He also said he was not a fraudster or criminal.
He said Vikash Sewram was a personal friend who he had tried to help. “I knew of people who were selling land. The man I gave the money to disappeared and Vikash had no option but to open a case. I have paid him back.”
Regarding Marcus Govender, he said he wanted to lease his shebeen business to him as he was getting sick.
“I have had two strokes and heart surgery. There was a problem because the title deed for the house was transferred into my wife’s name, but it is only hers after I die. And I am still living.”
When asked about the case involving the R1 million Anusha Reddy paid to him, he questioned how the Sunday Tribune knew about it.
Eventually he spoke briefly about the matter, saying he was helping her through an attorney he knew. “The matter is years old. The case is still being investigated.”
He said he had three ID books with different names because he changed his name when he lost them.