A court in South Africa has sentenced Gandhi’s great-granddaughter to seven years in prison for defrauding a businessman out of over GBP 320,000.
The court in the city of Durban found Ashish Lata Ramgobin, aged 56, guilty of fraud and forgery and sentenced her to seven years behind bars.
Ramgobin is the great-granddaughter of Indian lawyer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who employed non-violent resistance in leading the campaign for his country’s independence from British rule.
Ramgobin was found guilty of defrauding businessman Shailendra Maharaj, director of the New Africa Alliance Footwear Distributors, out of ZAR 6.2 million (GBP 321,340) in 2015.
She invoiced him the money ostensibly to clear customs and import duties for a consignment from India that was, in fact, non-existent.
She told the businessman she had imported a shipment of linen destined for a hospital group with which she claimed she had a contract, though it later emerged she did not.
Ramgobin promised to pay him back the loan, in addition to a share of her future profits.
According to the prosecution, she provided falsified documentation and invoices to trick Maharaj into transferring her the money.
It was the company director himself who later realised he had been swindled, and he filed a police complaint against her.
Ramgobin’s mother is Ela Gandhi, Mohandas Gandhi’s granddaughter, who is a South African peace activist and was an MP in the country from 1994 to 2004.
She defended her daughter, telling reporters: “We stand behind her and are supporting her”.
Ramgobin has started serving her sentence, having been refused leave by the court to appeal her conviction and punishment.