Problems pile up for ditched ex

2013-03-26 00:00

IF ROBERT Powell never learnt why hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, he has now.

His former girlfriend, Anne Cowan (51), claims he faked a hijacking to steal her car and reported two false burglaries to pawn her jewellery worth R750 000 and other household items.

A winding legal road started last year by Cowan finally saw Powell (44) enter the dock for a formal bail application in the Durban Regional Court yesterday.

Fresh from a week in Westville Prison, the 44-year-old former Hillcrest man heard he faces five charges of theft and one of defeating the ends of justice.

For now his battle is getting bail after missing two court appearances, prompting police to arrest him in Cape Town, where he now lives with another woman.

In an affidavit, Powell said he failed to appear on January 24 and February 21 because he was “cash-strapped” and couldn’t get to Durban.

He claimed he spoke to the presiding magistrate on the first occasion and that he e-mailed a prosecutor to explain his absence for the second court date.

Powell said he needed bail because his younger brother depended on him financially, while his own bipolar condition required daily medicine.

He said he was not a flight risk as his passport was already with police, which investigating officer Warrant Officer Rishi Ramathur confirmed.

Insisting his latest legal encounter was more suited to the civil courts, he dismissed a previous theft conviction in 2005 as a “business transaction that went horribly wrong”. He had received a five-year sentence, wholly suspended.

It emerged after questioning from Magistrate Anand Maharaj that Powell owed his father R1,2 million and Cowan’s mother, Edna Nel, R600 000. He claimed that the money was owing to a business he owned and which he could secure only if given bail.

But prosecutor Surekha Marimuthu opposed his application and led the investigating officer through the charges.

Ramathur said Powell reported a burglary at Cowan’s house on March 16, 2011, when her collection of expensive jewellery was stolen.

“She later discovered the items were taken by the accused as she had recovered some items from a jewellery store.” The store staff told Cowan that Powell had pawned two items.

Two weeks later Powell reported another “burglary” in which cellphones, DVD players and a camera, among other items, were stolen. Ramathur said the circumstances were similar.

On January 5, 2012, Powell opened a hijacking case at Umbilo police station, claiming Cowan’s Hyundai i20 had been hijacked. Ramathur said Cowan established later that Powell had sold the car to a company. The same company, said Ramathur, also bought Nel’s Hyundai Atos on April 18, 2012, after Powell had allegedly transferred the car illegally into his name and then sold it. Ramathur said in evidence that Powell had applied for asylum to the UK in July last year, which was rejected.

He said this and the fact that his father lived in Zimbabwe constituted a flight risk. The bail application was rolled over to today, when Ramathur will be cross-examined.

In the holding cells immediately afterwards, Powell was served with a lawsuit filed by Nel in the high court in Pietermaritzburg last week, demanding payment of R614 000, with interest, for a loan she made to him the same month he applied for asylum.

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