Panday: I love the fast lane!

2011-10-08 00:00

OUT on R100 000 bail and dressed in a tracksuit, Thoshan Panday (39) agreed to be interviewed for the first time since his release from custody earlier this week.

At his Palm Boulevard office in Umhlanga he was careful not to jeopardise his ongoing trial.

The story of alleged murder plots on senior policemen, bribes and tenders involving tens of millions of rands makes for riveting reading, but the exposure has taken its toll on Panday.

“One newspaper even claimed I own a helicopter which I park on my roof top, and although it’s a possibility, it’s just not true,” he laughed.

Panday claims to turn over R60 million a month on average, and R100 million in a good month.

Born in Thornville and schooled at Raisethorpe Secondary, Panday went to the University of Natal to study a BBA “with money always on my mind”.

He tried his hand at insurance broking and was reasonably successful, but his real break came on a trip to China.

“Let’s just say nine years ago I was in the right place at the right time,” he smiled.

“I am a businessman. Where there is a gap, I capitalise on it.”

His fleet of vehicles includes an Aston Martin DB9, a Ferrari California and a Lamborghini, and he admitted he has a penchant for exotic cars and life in the fast lane.

“It’s normal for me to have breakfast in Cape Town, lunch in Johannesburg and dinner in Durban,” he said.

Under the auspices of GoldCoast Trading — his core business is trading in diamonds, gold and precious metals — Panday also owns a smelter and a mine in Congo.

He said that during his week-long sojourn behind bars he “realistically” lost R2,5 million of business.

“I was born a businessman, and if it means me working till 4 am to make money, it’s what I will do.”

But while money may be his driving force, he says children are his life.

Panday has two children and adopted two others, and he said he hopes to adopt more.

“They bring so much love into our lives and all the money in the world could never buy you that.

“My wife and children have taken strain with this entire ordeal,” he said, but he is confident that the dark cloud will pass.

“I had a Katha and Junda (thanksgiving prayer), which we conduct once a year, scheduled for this week and I was released just in time to attend it,” he said, attributing his release to divine intervention.

Panday said he consults a guru and is deeply spiritual — he believes that his incarceration and attempts by the state “to break” him have only made him stronger.

“I was a man of steel, but now I am super-steel.”

He insisted that he is innocent and this will all be proven. “All this does is it builds character,” he said.

Panday acknowledged his supporters include some of President Jacob Zuma’s family, among other high-profile figures.

“Those who know me know what I’m about. I will never stop making money, so retirement is out of the question …

“It’s amazing how we take a simple thing like our beds for granted. Prison is a horrible place, and never in my life would I have imagined staying there, not for a second,” he said.

Panday is the focus of a year-long probe into a R60 million tender for police accommodation and was arrested at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport last month on his return from Zambia.

Among the allegations is that last year he organised and paid for a birthday party for Brigadier Lucas Ngobeni, the husband of KwaZulu-Natal police chief Lieutenant-General Mamunye Ngobeni. They have denied ever meeting him.

Panday did not attend the function, but organised everything and reportedly settled the bill of R21 000.

Supply chain management police officer Navin Madhoe was arrested moments after he put a suitcase containing almost R1,3 million into the car of the head of the Hawks, General Johan Booysen,recently.

It is alleged that a further R700 000 was to be paid later. The funds were apparently made available by Panday. There is also an allegation that Panday put out a contract on Booysen’s life.

Panday and Madhoe, who has been released on R40 000 bail, will appear in court again at the end of November.

• rowan.sewchurran@witness.co.za

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