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L to R: Mahatma Gandhi Ashish Lata Ramgobin
Ashish Lata Ramgobin, Mahatma Gandhi's great-granddaughter, who was an accused in a six million rand (₹3.3 crore) fraud and forgery case, has been sentenced to seven years in jail by a Durban court in South Africa.
The 56-year-old daughter of an activist was pronounced guilty of defrauding industrialist SR Maharaj, who had advanced 62 lakh rands (₹3.3 crore) to her for clearing custom and import duties of a consignment, which was supposed to arrive from India but that never arrived.
Also, he was promised a share of profits. Maharaj owned New Africa Alliance Footwear that dealt with the export, manufacturing and sale of clothes, linen and shoes. Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) during the trial in 2015 had accused Ramgobin of forging fake receipts and documents to prove that the consignment of linen was arriving in South Africa from India.
However, the court granted Ramgobin a bail on a 50,000 rand surety. The court said Ramgobin had met Maharaj in August 2015 and assured him that she had ordered three linen containers that were bring shipped from India for a South African hospital NetCare.
Tribune quoted NPA spokesperson Natasha Kara as saying, "She (Ramgobin) said she was experiencing financial difficulties to pay for import costs and customs and she needed the money to clear the goods at the harbour.”
It further stated, “She advised him (Maharaj) that she needed R6.2 million. To convince him, she showed him what she claimed was a signed purchase order for the goods. Later that month, she sent him what seemed to be a NetCare invoice and delivery note as proof that the goods were delivered and payment was imminent.”