A passport carrier is seen in this file image.

Durban - Convicted fraudster Visham Panday’s lawyer appeared to be at a loss for words on Tuesday when it emerged that his client had applied for a passport in 2005 under a different name.

Panday had apparently used the name Sunil Maharaj, the same name that appears on an ID issued to him last year.

His advocate, Fanie Slabbert, was handed a copy of the passport in the Durban Magistrate’s Court. It has Panday’s picture, but with the different name.

“He wanted to change his name; it’s not easy being a Panday in Durban,” Slabbert said before consulting his client in the dock.

After a brief discussion with Panday, Slabbert asked for an adjournment, saying he had to attend a funeral on Wednesday.

Panday, who is related to controversial Durban businessman Thoshan Panday, is reapplying for bail after he was arrested on charges of fraud in December, for allegedly posing as a doctor and swindling a Durban woman out of R450 000.

At the time, he was granted bail of R25 000, but this was forfeited to the State after he failed to appear in court in February.

Panday was later rearrested on a warrant, and also for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Vanishree Naidoo.

Panday allegedly also skipped bail on other fraud charges in 2003 and fled to India.

He returned to SA in 2010 after his lawyer negotiated a plea-bargain agreement with the State for a non-custodial sentence. He was given a suspended sentence and a fine of R500 000.

Yesterday, Slabbert argued that his client would not skip bail on the latest charges, saying he had handed over his passports to the police. Although he had a second ID with a different name, his picture and ID number were the same, he said.

Investigating officer Sunet Potgieter told the court that Panday should not be granted bail.

Potgieter said a person who applied for a second ID with different names “seems to me like someone who wants to change their identity”.

In March last year, Panday was convicted on 45 counts of fraud, she said.

The matter is expected to continue on Friday. - Daily News