‘I was told to forge signatures’

2012-08-16 00:00

A FORMER Mountain Rise policeman told the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday that he had been instructed to forge signatures of two of his superiors on hundreds of procurement documents during 2007 and 2009.

Inspector Yugen “Stanley” Naidoo, who is in witness protection, is giving evidence in the trial on fraud, corruption and racketeering charges of former station commissioner Hariram Badul, Captain Suresh Naraindath, Lieutenant-Colonel Yunus Khan, ex-constable Patrick Nkabini and businessman Sigamoney Pillay.

The five were yesterday acquitted by Judge Rashid Vahed of 30 counts of fraud after state advocate Wendy Greef said the prosecution had decided to drop the charges.

All the charges related to allegations of fraud concerning services and repairs allegedly effected at Mountain Rise police station.

Greef said the state had decided to stop the prosecution on these counts after extensive consultation with Naidoo, who is a key witness.

The accused still face a total of 98 counts of racketeering, fraud, theft, corruption and money laundering.

Naidoo yesterday told the court that while working in the supply chain management office at Mountain Rise under the command of Naraindath for 10 years, he had, on Naraindath’s instructions forged his signature and that of Badul on hundreds of procurement documents.

He was not aware if Badul knew about the forgeries, but said he believed he had given his permission because when equipment arrived at the police station, which had been procured without him signing for it, he merely distributed it to members.

Naidoo said that to his knowledge Badul never questioned Naraindath and he did not ask Naidoo how the chairs were obtained without his signature.

He alleged that Naraindath arrived at this office one day with Badul’s name stamp, saying Badul had given it to him and that from now on he [Naraindath] was to sign all logistical documents.

Naraindath had “practised” copying Badul’s signature on a piece of paper and then told Naidoo to see if he could copy it.

“I refused … He swore me and said, ‘F****n try it, lightie’,” Naidoo said.

“I had no choice. In his presence I practised the director’s signature from the document he brought … He said my signature was closer [to Badul’s] than his, and I should sign all logistical documents from now onwards.”

Naidoo said he had previously started forging Naraindath’s signature on documents, also on his instructions, when Naraindath was away and his signature was required. “It became an ongoing habit,” he said.

“When I used to produce documents for him to sign he would tell me to ‘fire it up’, meaning I must speed up the process by signing his signature.”

Naidoo was warned yesterday as an accomplice to “the overwhelming majority” of charges that the accused in the trial face. The judge further warned him that if the court was not satisfied he told the truth, he could be refused indemnity.

He was given an opportunity to obtain legal representation, but declined.

He said in his evidence he did not like working for Naraindath, who was “vulgar” and did not look after his employees. He said he was initially “scared” of Badul, but after a few months Badul came to him and told him he had been “misinformed” about him.

Badul vowed to “take care of him” and thereafter kept his promise to ensure he always received an annual performance bonus. He also arranged for him to get a bakkie to drive in which he had run private errands for Badul, he said. The vehicle did not have a tracker.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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