Warrant for fraud accused stayed

A former Port Elizabeth accountant facing a string of fraud charges amounting to almost R8.4m failed to appear in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crime Court on Monday – but escaped arrest after arranging to miss his appearance because he now lives in Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal.
It is alleged that between February 2016 and May 2017, Ravishkar Ramgoolam defrauded his employer, Street Fever, Port Elizabeth, of R8,392,847.50 by substituting the banking details of his employer’s creditors with his own.
Apart from the 37 charges of fraud, Ramgoolam faces an additional charge of defeating the administration of justice after he claimed he was kidnapped, intimidated, had his Mercedes Benz stolen from him and was forced to transfer an amount of R343,000 out of his bank account.
Ramgoolam did not enter a plea previously.
He was granted bail in September.
According to the charge sheet, Ramgoolam was approached by Haroon and Dawood Bemat of the Street Fever franchise about the alleged theft on May 18 2017.
The state claims Ramgoolam then voluntarily transferred an amount of about R343,000 to Dawood Bemat’s bank account.
The following day, during a meeting, and in the presence of the Bemats as well as attorney Tracey Lynn Watson-Gill and others, Ramgoolam signed an admission of guilt document drafted by Watson-Gill.
He had also surrendered a Mercedes Benz to the Bemats.
Three days later, Ramgoolam had a change of heart and reported a case of intimidation, kidnapping, theft of a motor vehicle and theft of R343,000 at the Humewood police station.
On Monday, defence attorney Louis van Heerden told magistrate Hannes Claassen that although he was originally on record for the accused during his bail application, Ramgoolam had since appointed new legal counsel in Pietermaritzburg.
“I request for the matter to be postponed for the accused to consult with his new lawyer,” Van Heerden said.
He asked for a four-week postponement.
State prosecutor Advocate Lise Keech asked for a final remand.
“We can’t carry on like this,” she said.
Claassen authorised a warrant of arrest for Ramgoolam but after being informed that the state and defence had arranged for him not to be present, Claassen made a note that the warrant be stayed.
A provisional date has been set for December 10.

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