Suspect turns Houdini

2012-07-11 00:00

ALLEGED con artist Charlene Singh appears to be Pietermaritzburg’s answer to Houdini.

The 28-year-old, who already faces a charge of escaping from custody earlier this year, allegedly tried to do the same after her court appearance on Monday.

And if court sources are to be believed, Singh apparently also made an unsuccessful bid for freedom yesterday morning during a visit to the district surgeon.

Confronted with the fresh charge of Monday’s escape from custody, Singh apologised and told local magistrate Raymond Kunene yesterday that because of her heroin addiction she had needed a “fix”.

While being transported to Mountain Rise police station to be detained after Monday’s court appearance, Singh allegedly jumped out of the window of a police vehicle and fled.

But her freedom was short-lived.

Singh was rearrested an hour later by the police dog unit when she was spotted walking in Stella Road, Northdale, said provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane.

She had managed to escape when the police vehicle taking her and other suspects back to Mountain Rise police station stopped at the intersection of Church Street and Murphy Street.

She was seated in the passenger seat and escaped through the window.

Zwane said he was unaware of the allegation that Singh had tried to escape from the offices of a district surgeon who examined her yesterday morning.

The examination followed Singh’s assertion on Monday that she was assaulted at the weekend while in police custody at Camperdown.

Sources at court told The Witness Singh tried to flee from the doctor’s rooms.

Singh’s attorney, Nasen Naicker, confirmed that he had also been told by a policeman that she had tried to run away from the doctor’s rooms.

However, when he asked Singh about it, she told him the allegation was a lie.

During her court appearance yesterday, Singh chose to address the court even though Naicker was not present.

“I’m ready to address the court. I’d like to,” she told Kunene.

“I have a problem, right. I realise that what I did was wrong … But I am a heroin addict and I needed a fix. I do apologise … I am not asking to be set free or anything, but what I am asking is that I should be kept in custody at a rehabilitation centre.”

She told the court she had a prescription from a doctor in her vehicle at home for medication to assist her when “coming off heroin”.

Kunene asked why she had not asked the district surgeon who examined her yesterday morning for a prescription.

“I wasn’t sure I could … I wasn’t taken there for that. He only gave me medication for my stomach cramps,” Singh replied.

Before adjourning the case until July 20 when Singh is scheduled to apply for bail, Kunene told her to inform Westville Prison authorities about her problem and to ask to see a doctor.

Her long hair untidily tied back in a pony-tail and dressed in a beige polar fleece jacket and jeans, the slightly built Singh earlier sat clutching her stomach or holding her head in her hands in the accused’s dock while waiting for the hearing to start.

At one stage when she began moving around in the dock, police ordered her to sit down. A court official warned her that she could be put into leg irons if necessary because she had escaped from custody before.

Singh also faces charges that she stole valuables from elderly people in Pietermaritzburg after conning her way into their homes.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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