File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Shock as cops arrested over cigarette corruption are named

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Jul 4, 2020

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Durban – The provincial Anti-Corruption Unit arrested two police officers from Durban Central Station yesterday for corruption, theft and defeating the ends of justice.

This as 11 respected police officers were in the dock at Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court on charges of theft and corruption related to cigarettes and cash. They appeared in two different cases.

The first appearance involved detectives from Chatsworth Police Station with accused number one being Detective Rama Moodley, 47, with Ashton Rajbansi, 29 and Alicia Louise Peters, 33.

A veteran police officer, Moodley is well-known in Chatsworth and has been part of teams on a number of high-profile investigations. 

These included alleged triple killer Mogamberry Rajan Kandasamy who in 2016 bludgeoned his family with traditional Indian maces because his wife Varsha wanted to file for divorce, as well as the Shaun “Rooster” Pillay case in 2018. 

Pillay was found guilty of culpable homicide after Vijalakshmi “Veronica” Moodley’s decomposed body was found in the boot of her car. The pair were lovers and Pillay was the caregiver to Moodley’s wheelchair-bound husband Ricky.

But this week, Moodley and his colleagues were cuffed and in the dock before Magistrate Michelle Basdew.

There was an air of tension as colleagues and family of the accused made their way into Court C. The media was advised that no photos or cellphone video footage would be allowed.

The charges of corruption and theft relate to a report by a member of the public to the Anti-Corruption Unit.

According to SAPS provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker, the complainant alleged he had gone to Chatsworth to buy cigarettes and was stopped by the three detectives who were in an unmarked car. 

According to the man, the detectives searched his vehicle and took five cases of cigarettes and R4000 in cash. The charge sheet valued the cigarettes at R62 500.

Naicker said when the complainant went to Chatsworth Station to enquire about his case, he realised the officers had not handed in the seized items.

The three detectives were arrested on Thursday and their appearance in court was brief. They were granted R2000 bail and the case was postponed to August 21 for further investigation.

Immediately after they had been ushered out of court, eight officers from ex-Ethekwini Inner South Cluster Task Team made their way into the dock - also on charges of theft and corruption with regard to cigarettes. 

They were Joeash Govender, 29, Pragashan Govender, 36, Brandin Naidoo, 35, Uzair Omar Saib, 30, Rodash Baijnath, 28, Winston Govender, 29, Belvenathan Koopersam, 36 and Ashlin Tekram, 32.

According to Naicker, the complainant in the second matter had reported that he had been approached by the officers in his shop in Chatsworth and was accused of selling cigarettes and bribing them with R20 000.

When the complainant returned to his shop, he found R250 000 in cash in two boxes and cigarettes had disappeared. He reported the theft to Chatsworth Police Station and the officers were arrested.

Six officers were granted R2 000 bail and two R3 000 bail. The case was postponed until August 21.

Outside court, a family member shouted at the media, saying no officers’ names could be made public and media could not see the charge sheet.

The charge sheet becomes a public document once suspects have appeared in court and the media is allowed to print the names of accused persons.

Naicker said that a report was being prepared to determine whether the officers would be suspended and would not comment further.

With the further arrests yesterday, Naicker said a shop owner informed the unit that the accused had come to his premises and accused him of dealing in stolen cellphones. 

“The suspects removed 30 cellphones and R50 000 from the premises. The officers detained the complainant in a holding cell, but he was never charged.

“The complainant alleges the men returned the following day and deleted CCTV footage from his hard drive.”Both men will appear in Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Yesterday, SAPS KZN provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula welcomed the arrests, saying corruption in the police would not be tolerated and “serious action would be taken against members”.

Independent on Saturday

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