Thoshan Panday, co-accused urged to disclose transcripts of ‘tapped’ phone conversations

Thoshan Panday.

Thoshan Panday.

Published Oct 23, 2023


Durban — Durban businessman Thoshan Panday and his co-accused in the R47 million Fifa World Cup tender scandal urged the State to disclose transcripts of tapped mobile telephone conversations in the Durban High Court on Monday.

The State had given the defence 31 recordings of phone conversations of some of the accused that they had recorded between October 2010 and mid 2012. The defence want access to all the recordings from the 18 months. One of the conditions by the State was that the defence should listen to the recordings in the presence of a police officer. The defence argued that it was an unauthorised tapping case.

The 550 page application was brought by the accused; former police Colonel Navin Madhoe, former policeman Ashwin Narainpershad, former KwaZulu-Natal, provincial commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni, Panday, Arvenda Panday, Privisha Panday, Seevesh Maharaj Ishwarkumar, Kajal Ishwarkumar and Tasleem Rahiman.

The accused face charges of racketeering, fraud, corruption and money laundering. It is alleged by the State that Panday has been identified as the sole member of Goldcast Trading CC which was awarded orders for accommodation for police members deployed within KZN for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

It is alleged that the company was awarded 80% of the accommodation contracts ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Goldcast, along with four other entities associated with Panday, allegedly received orders approved by Madhoe and Narainpershad for miscellaneous goods as required by the SAPS which were fraudulently approved through forgery.

The group is accused of swindling the SAPS out of more than R47 million through dubious tender processes.

The court had set the date for a pre-trial to November 29, but the defence argued, on Monday, that without access to all information from the state it might not be able to proceed.

Senior state prosecutor Dorian Paver said the defence had made an application but the reluctance of the state to disclose it to the defence was because others have the right to protection and the disclosure of other persons not party to this litigation was a concern. Paver briefed the court that there were threats made to the investigators and that was the primary reason why the application was made for monitoring.

Paver told the court that a meeting was set up for the defence to listen to the recordings. Paver said only Madhoe took the opportunity and made a recording of the 31 conversations on his own phone.

Attorney Ravindra Maniklal, who is representing Madhoe, Ngobeni and Narainpershad, told the court that, “there were vast patches of missing information” and that the State was not clear in their response.

“We have seen so many gaps. If we do not have access it will be difficult to prepare for the case,” he said.

Panday’s attorney advocate Michael Hellens said the State needed to get its house in order.

“We want to look at all conversations. It will prevent us from having a fair trial. The annexures or transcripts have not been given to us to get a full picture of what happened. We challenge the lawfulness of phone tapping. The evidence should not be admissible in court, it was done illegally,” he said.

Advocate Jimmy Howse said with regard to the recordings there was no metadata, date or time or duration of the recording which made things difficult to contextualise.

“Where is the harm with State providing us with encryption software?”

Judge Khosi Hadebe reserved her judgment.

Panday told IOL that the state had 10 years to prepare its case and the delays were frustrating.

In May 2023, IOL reported that the SAPS has been given the right to monitor and intercept cellular communications for mass surveillance purposes.

This comes after Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, gazetted a five-year “certificate of exemption”, under the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act (RICA).

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