‘Brazen’: Judge finds couple evasive and convicts them of fraudTenants forge deed of sale

2011-08-09 00:00

A REGIONAL court magistrate yesterday convicted a couple of “brazen” fraud and found they would have gone to “incomprehensible lengths” in a bid to deprive a local homeowner, Rowena Padayachee, of the Burger Street home she’d inherited from her mother and intended to pass on to her children.

The accused, Akashnee Singh (39) and Dinesh Lutchman (37), were found guilty by regional magistrate Chris van Vuuren of having presented a fake deed of sale to attorney Vilanthree Naidoo with the intention of taking transfer of the property at 555 Burger Street in October 2004.

The court heard evidence that the accused had leased the property from Padayachee, through Wakefields, in 2004.

Soon after Padayachee gave instructions to the agency to evict the couple for not paying rent, she received a phone call from an attorney asking her to sign transfer papers in respect of the property.

Padayachee, who at times became emotional, testified that she was “shocked and anguished” by the request, saying that she had never signed a deed of sale and never had any intention of selling the property, which she’d inherited from her mother and which had great sentimental value for her.

Van Vuuren said the two accused were both “poor” and evasive witnesses who had contradicted themselves and each other and whose version was “riddled with improbabilities”.

In contrast he found Padayachee’s evidence had a “ring of truth” and was supported by other state witnesses.

Singh’s version, which was rejected by the court, was to the effect that she and Lutchman had been looking for a property to buy and that they were told the property was for sale through Wakefields. She maintained that the sale had been discussed with Padayachee by telephone and that Padayachee had subsequently signed the deed of sale.

Singh said she believed Padayachee later changed her mind because neighbours offered to pay her more than Singh and Lutchman had.

Van Vuuren found after evaluating all the evidence that the accuseds’ version could not possibly be true and convicted both of fraud.

The court agreed to a request by advocate Brad Osborne for a postponement of the case until September 9 in order to obtain a report by a probation officer to assist the court in arriving at a proper sentence.

He told the court that Lutchman has recently been released from prison, and that Singh had “problems” concerning minor children to sort out.

Padayachee told The Witness after judgment she was happy and relieved that justice had finally been done after seven years and praised the efforts of investigators Stephen Gouws and Brad Swift.

Singh and Lutchman are still living rent-free in her home, Padayachee added, and she hoped that a civil action to evict them would proceed in the high court during September.

Apart from losing out of seven years’ rental, Padayachee said she is aware that the water account is sitting at around R39 000.

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