Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
A diamond dealer has claimed police stole his precious stones worth nearly R10 million.

Registered diamond dealer Arvind Sewnath, a former Durban resident, served a summons on the minister of police this week.

Sewnath, 43, was arrested and charged in September for being in possession of unlawful gemstones.

He was travelling in a vehicle in the company of three potential clients, when they were stopped by police in Sandton, Gauteng.

He was found in possession of 11 diamonds of 26.5 carats and 1325 carats of emeralds.

Two days after his arrest, the charges were dropped, but police have not returned his gems.

On Wednesday, his attorney Rajesh Hiralall filed summons with the Gauteng High Court, which listed the minister as the defendant.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said: “We will let the legal process take its course.”

Sewnath, who started a mineral trading company with a Zambian priest in August, said in the court documents he feared that without compensation for his missing diamonds and emeralds, his business would collapse.

He is an equal partner with Father Francis Matunda in Talcom Zambia Investment Limited CC, a registered Zambian business.

“On September 25, I travelled from Zambia with my diamonds and precious gemstones to meet potential buyers in Durban.”

Sewnath journeyed with his mother Seerta and stopped in Sandton to visit friends and family on September 27.

Two days later, while driving with the three men who expressed an interest in his stock of gemstones, they were stopped by police.

“The three policemen in uniform did not tell me or the others why they stopped and searched our vehicle.

“When I put the gemstones on the car’s roof, we were accused of being in possession of illegal gemstones.

“I repeatedly told them I had legal documents and a permit to sell gemstones, but the police officers refused to listen.”

Sewnath said he and the other men were questioned in Sandton police station boardroom about illegal dealing in precious stones.

When Sewnath asked the police why they were taking the gemstones away, he was told he had displayed “utter disrespect” and that they were going to be detained.

“I called my mother and asked her to bring the paperwork for the gemstones to the station, but the police would not look at it,” Sewnath said.

At court, the attorney who was introduced to Sewnath by police, said he was in “serious trouble” and needed to pay R5000 upfront for assistance.

Sewnath complied.

“A while later, the attorney returned and told me that the charges were withdrawn against me as the prosecutor said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute me.”

Sewnath went to the Sandton police station to claim his precious stones, but was told to return the next day. Worried about their safety, Sewnath asked to see the station commander, but he was refused.

The investigating officer then took him to a room with a wooden cabinet and showed him his bagged precious stones from a distance.

“From what I could see, it looked like the bags did not contain all my stones,” said Sewnath.

So he opened a charge at the station, fearing his stones were had been tampered with.

He asked the investigating officer whether the details of the stones taken from him were entered into the SAP13 register where all exhibits are recorded.

“I was told the SAP13 register could not be located.

“I then suspected the police stole my diamonds and gemstones. I’ve been advised that the police are compelled by law to count and weigh all the stones, then record the information in the SAP13 register before handing me an inventory of the items removed from my possession.”

Hiralall issued a letter a to Sandton’s commander, demanding the return of the stones, but got no response.

Sewnath said he required compensation for the stones worth R962 7450 and R600 000 for his unlawful and malicious arrest.

He said the missing stones had caused him a huge financial loss as they were not insured because they were from another country.

Sunday Tribune