Durban/Bhubaneswar: A great-granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi was on Monday sentenced to seven years in prison by a South African court for a six million rand fraud and forgery case.
Ashish Lata Ramgobin (56) was found guilty by the Durban Court on Monday. Ramgobin is the daughter of noted rights activist Ela Gandhi and the late Mewa Ramgobind.
Lata allegedly defrauded a businessman named SR Maharaj. The businessman had advanced her R6.2 million for reportedly clearing Customs duties for a non-existent consignment from India. Maharaj was promised a share of the profits.
The Durban Specialised Commercial Crime Court even refused Lata leave to appeal her conviction and the sentence announced by the court.
The trial of the case had started way back in 2015. Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had then said that Lata had allegedly produced fake invoices and documents to defraud investors. She had allegedly convinced them that three containers of linen were being imported from India.
Following her arrest, Lata was at that time released on a bail of R50,000.
Lata had met Maharaj, director of the New Africa Alliance Footwear Distributors, in 2015 and had told him that she had imported three containers of linen for the South African hospital group NetCare.
“She 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,” NPA spokesperson Natasha Kara said on Monday.
“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,” she said.
This comes as a major surprise to many considering the family that Lata belongs to. A number of her cousins are staunch rights activists. Her mother Ela in particular is globally recognized for her work in South Africa.