Durban - After serving nine months of an effective three-year prison sentence for fraud, Durban businessman Visham Panday has been released early from jail because the remainder of his sentence has been converted to correctional supervision.

In March last year Panday was convicted on three counts of fraud by Commercial Crime Court acting magistrate Melvin Govender and received a five-year sentence of which two years were suspended.

The Department of Correctional Services had applied in December for the remainder of Panday’s sentence to be converted. Last Thursday, acting Commercial Crime Court magistrate Nalini Govender granted this application.

Speaking on Tuesday through his attorney, Avinash Maharajh, Panday said his life at the Glencoe prison had been very difficult and he never wants to return. “He has paid his dues and served his time.”

Maharajh said Panday was now living with his sister and going to work for a Richards Bay petroleum company until he finds something else.

Maharajh said Panday was now also focusing his attention on appealing his conviction, which has been set down to be heard in in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in June.

In December, Brian Kunene, chairman of the Correctional Supervision and Parole Board of the Glencoe Management Area at the department, had made an application for Panday’s sentence to be converted.

According to a social worker’s progress report, handed in to court, Panday had said he did not accept responsibility for his offence and “attributes his actions to poor decision making skills which is related to the aspect of trust”.

Panday posed as “Dr Calvin Naidoo” and befriended Durban woman Gladys Egling, telling her he could help her emigrate to the US.

Egling testified that Panday had asked her for R485 000 to process her paperwork and establish her credit worthiness, but the trip had not materialised.

Panday claimed the charges were part of a conspiracy orchestrated by the police to discredit him and his relative, uMhlanga business Tho-shan Panday, who was charged with corruption and attempting to bribe police officers in two cases, but all charges against him were withdrawn last year.

In addition to the fraud conviction, Panday was sentenced, last July in the Umhlali Magistrate’s Court to 12 months’ imprisonment for common assault, which was suspended for three years,

In a hand-written letter addressed to the court about the application for sentence conversion, Panday said he was not satisfied with his sentence conviction procedure “due to the fact that he was convicted based on one witness”.

“The sentence is a minor crime. I’m no danger to the community, I request for correctional supervision,” his letter read.

Daily News