Mahatma Gandhi's great-granddaughter sentenced to 7-year imprisonment in South Africa
Ashish Lata Ramgobin, 56, great-granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, has been sentenced to seven years in prison by a court in South Africa in connection with a six million rand (official currency of South Africa) fraud and forgery case, PTI reported. She was found guilty by the Durban Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Monday. Ramgobin was also denied leave to appeal her conviction and sentencing.
Ramgobin is the daughter of noted activists Ela Gandhi and late Mewa Ramgobin. She has been charged with cheating businessman SR Maharaj of 6.2 million rand (or approximately Rs. 3.22 crore) for allegedly clearing import and custom duties on a non-existent consignment from India. She had promised Maharaj a share in the profits of the purported deal.
Ramgobin and Maharaj had met in August 2015. He is the director of the New Africa Alliance Footwear Distributors, which reportedly imports, manufactures, and sells clothing, linen, and footwear. The company also provides finance to other firms on a profit-share basis. She allegedly gave him forged purchase orders, invoices, and delivery notes before procuring the said loan of six million rand from him.
The trial in this case began in 2015. Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had said at the time that Ramgobin allegedly provided fake documents to convince investors that three containers of linen were being shipped in from India. However, Ramgobin was then released on a bail amount of 50,000 rand.
"She (Ramgobin) said she was experiencing financial difficulties to pay for import costs and customs and she needed the money to clear the goods at the harbor," NPA spokesperson Natasha Kara said on Monday. She also "sent him confirmation from NetCare's bank account that payment had been made." However, after Maharaj found out the documents were fake, he filed criminal charges over the matter.
Ramgobin is the founder and executive director of the Participative Development Initiative at the NGO International Centre for Non-Violence. She reportedly described herself as an "activist with focus on environmental, societal, and political interests." Both of Ramgobin's parents have gained international attention for their activism. Her mother, Ela Gandhi, has received numerous accolades, including the Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.