Don't mention my conviction, says fraudster Panday

Visham Panday, gold and diesel dealer, convicted fraudster and brother to the more infamous Thoshan Panday, has demanded that Pietermaritzburg magistrate Ashin Singh make good on his threat to have him charged with ¨defeating the ends of justice. So he told Noseweek when he called to demand a right of reply after getting a mention in a nose227 story titled ‘Foul-mouthed magistrate threatened me’.

As it happens, the alleged threat mentioned in the headline was not directed at Panday, but at The Witness newspaper’s court reporter, Sharika Regchand.

'He can shine my shoes on a bad day' - Visham Panday referring to magistrate Ashin Singh

Magistrate Singh had accused the paper and reporter Regchand of allowing themselves to be used by the likes of Visham Panday to tarnish his name in their reporting of court proceedings. In the course of the row that followed, magistrate Singh is said to have called The Witness reporter “a bitch” and accused her of “sleeping with her sources”.

Those sources, magistrate Singh believed, included Visham Panday (whom Noseweek, always well-informed, recalled was a convicted fraudster and brother to better-known, politically well-connected profiteer Thoshan Panday, whom Noseweek gently described as “dodgy”).

After the story appeared, Panday called to complain: as reported in Noseweek, magistrate Singh’s claim that he was guilty of “defeating the ends of justice” was affecting his business, he said. He also took issue with “Noseweek’s reference to his fraud conviction and to his brother Thoshan as being “dodgy”.

“I sell diesel, diamonds and gold. The customers are very upmarket and high-end society. It brought me down to a level from making R5 million-a-month to R1m-a-month. My customers started asking me funny questions about what is going on and I had to explain to them. It’s had a negative impact on me,” said Panday.

The Witness reported in July that Panday had claimed in an urgent application filed at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg that a local hospital owner, Dr Navind Dayanand, had paid R1m for a “hit” on Visham’s life. Panday also implicated Singh, among others, in the plot.

This was simply a ploy, it was later argued, to get the scandalous story published without risk of a defamation suit. It was a legitimate court report.

Singh called Panday’s application a deliberate attempt to besmirch his name using the courts to do so. He said Panday would be prosecuted for “defeating the ends of justice” due to the “fabricated” claims he made in the urgent application.

Regchand has laid a criminal charge against magistrate Singh with the SAPS because of his alleged abuse and threats against her; while the matter has also been reported to the Magistrate’s Commission.

Singh maintains that a complaint about him to the Magistrate’s Commission by his colleague, magistrate Divesh Mootheram, along with Panday’s urgent application as well as  Regchand’s articles and complaints are all part of a conspiracy against him.

The Magistrate’s Commission would neither confirm or deny his claim, only saying they had open matters in which Singh was implicated.

• Visham Panday was sent to jail for an effective three years in March 2013 for fraud. Using an alias “Dr Calvin Naidoo” he had convinced a woman to hand him R485,000 to help her emigrate to the USA but nothing ever materialised. According to The Mercury newspaper, in 2003 he once fled to India after he was charged with 45 counts of fraud. He only returned in 2010 after his lawyer negotiated a plea-bargain agreement for a non-custodial sentence. In 2011, he was given a suspended sentence and was ordered to pay a fine of R500,000.

In 2016 he published a book telling about his life in Westville Prison, how he was a “General” of the 26 Gang and his “life-changing spiritual journey to the Himalayan mountains”.  

“I’ve paid my dues to society. I can’t be called a fraud all my life. The fraudster who is bringing corruption down? That doesn’t make sense,” he told Noseweek.

Panday also claims his brother is innocent of wrongdoing and should “have his day in court” to clear his name.

And what about Singh? Panday rates the magistrate so low that he could “shine my shoes on a bad day”.

Panday concedes that the title “fraudster’ will never completely disappear and, he agreed, if he were to demand that Noseweek retract calling his brother “dodgy”, he would be required to take up the argument with every single South African publication – all of which have called Thoshan dodgy – or worse.

(Seenoses149,150,154,165,181,184204, 221 & 226).

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