No swift trial in sight for Panday

2011-09-27 00:00

YESTERDAY’S long, drawn-out session in the Thoshan Panday corruption matter was a clear indicator that a swift trial and rapid conclusion are nowhere in sight.

Dressed in a smart suit, the slight, baby-faced Panday walked briskly ahead of his co-accused, police officer Colonel Navin Madhoe, to appear before presiding Magistrate Quim de Freitas.

What was supposed to have been a simple bail application at the Commercial Crimes Court was deliberated for at least six hours, with the outcome being an adjournment until this morning.

Panday’s arrest came after a sting operation in which supply-chain management police officer Madhoe allegedly attempted to bribe KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen to backdate a document, allegedly on Panday’s instructions.

Panday — the focus of a probe into a R60 million police accommodation tender — was arrested at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport on Saturday, on his return from Zambia where he was reportedly doing business.

Panday had last year allegedly organised and paid for a birthday party for Brigadier Lucas Ngobeni, the husband of KwaZulu-Natal police chief Lieutenant-General Mamunye Ngobeni.

The restaurant manager and DJ at The Dish in Umhlanga Ridge, the party venue, said in sworn statements that while Panday did not attend the function, he organised everything and settled the bill of R21 000.

Madhoe, meanwhile, was arrested moments after he put a suitcase containing almost R1,3 million into Booysen’s car more recently.

It is alleged that a further R700 000 was to be paid later.

The funds were apparently made available by Panday.

Prosecutor Bheki Manyathi asked De Freitas yesterday for at least three days for the state to finalise investigations against Panday, which the accused’s defence Jimmy Howse contested on the grounds that the state should have come prepared.

Howse asked De Freitas to consider running the trials for both accused concurrently since both are implicated in the same case of alleged corruption.

Referring to an alleged contract put out by Panday on Booysen’s life, Howse asked the magistrate to disregard the claim since similar claims have been made before with no outcome.

“Last year when this matter was being investigated, a similar claim was made by a Detective Soobramoney, who was heading the investigation, and he is still alive to this date,” said Howse.

De Freitas said the question of the right to freedom often comes into conflict with the “interest of justice”.

“The accused has every right to enjoy his freedom pending the outcome of the case, and it is true that the state should have come better prepared,” he said.

The case was adjourned until today to consider a bail application while both accused were detained in custody.

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