Gay lover let off

2014-07-15 00:00

DURBAN businessman Mthandeni Ngidi is a free man after spending nearly seven months behind bars while awaiting trial for the attempted murder of his lover, business mogul Stuart Grant.

He had also been charged with single counts of fraud and theft, after using Grant’s credit card to pay R8 000 towards his MBA tuition, and stealing his car in December last year.

Details of their relationship, in which Ngidi was bankrolled by Grant as a kept man, were laid before Durban Regional Court magistrate Anand Maharaj yesterday. The court heard that even after their relationship ended, the two continued to share a home in Morningside with Grant, who has businesses in the construction and property fields, maintaining Ngidi’s lifestyle and satiating his expensive taste with gifts of jewellery.

Grant’s taking a new lover is understood to have caused Ngidi to snap — beating his former lover with a plastic mallet in the early hours of the morning after he returned home from a function.

In Grant’s testimony and cross-examination, it emerged that Ngidi was given a monthly “allowance” worth thousands, had a credit card linked to Grant’s account and had been showered with gifts, including Mont Blanc cufflinks and expensive watches.

During the attack Grant sustained a cut to his head, a broken arm and bruises to the left side of his body, injuries Maharaj cited as not being consistent with an attempt on his life.

He also highlighted that Ngidi had called an ambulance and even helped with paperwork when Grant was admitted to hospital.

Maharaj found him guilty on a lesser charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Advocate Fanie Slabbert, acting for Ngidi, had presented evidence that Grant had paid for his client’s tuition which went undisputed, punching holes in allegations of fraud.

Slabbert also highlighted that when Grant’s car had been “stolen” by Ngidi, his client had made repeated calls to him which were ignored.

Ngidi had made Grant aware that he had the car, not the common practice of car thieves, according to Slabbert.

“You wanted to keep him in custody so you filed a library of charges and opposed bail,” Slabbert said.

Maharaj found Ngidi not guilty on the charge of fraud, but guilty on a lesser charge of borrowing without consent, after Grant conceded that Ngidi had used his other vehicles previously.

Delivering his judgment, Maharaj said that the court had relied upon the testimony of Grant and other evidence, and that Ngidi opting not to testify should not prejudice him.

“No court can condone violence from one person against another. I cannot find that you are a danger to any other citizen and you have the ability to make a success of yourself. Your time spent in custody already is sufficient to the charge,” he said.

He sentenced Ngidi to a suspended sentence of five years.

A jubilant Ngidi broke down when he left court. “I am excited to be out of prison and to get on with my life. I am excited to spend my first night of freedom with my family,” he said, sobbing in his mother’s arms outside court.

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