A great-granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi has been sentenced to seven years in jail by a court in Durban, South Africa, over fraud and forgery.

The Indian Express reported that Ashish Lata Ramgobin, 56, was found guilty on Monday by the Durban Specialised Commercial Crime Court, of defrauding businessman SR Maharaj of South African Rand (ZAR) 6.2 million (RM1.88 mil) for allegedly clearing import and customs duties for a consignment from India that did not exist.

Lata, who is the daughter of noted rights activists Ela Gandhi, and the late Mewa Ramgobind, reportedly defrauded Maharaj, who is the director of the New Africa Alliance Footwear Distributors, in August 2015, using forged invoices and documents to claim that three containers of linen were being shipped in from India.

She convinced him that she had run into financial difficulties to pay for import costs and customs and she needed money to clear the goods at the harbour.

Convinced by a forged signed purchase order for the goods and other invoices and receipts presented to him, Maharaj entered a written agreement with Lata for the loan. His company reportedly also provides finance to other companies on a profit-share basis.

The criminal charges against Lata was laid after Maharaj found out that the documents were dubious.

She was charged with the offence back in 2015, but later released on bail.

During sentencing on Monday, the court also refused Lata leave to appeal her conviction, and sentence.

Lata is the founder and the executive director of the Participative Development Initiative at the International Centre for Non-Violence, whose work mainly focuses on “environmental, societal and political” matters, while her mother Ela Gandhi has been internationally recognised for her peace activism, including national honours from both India and South Africa.

Lata's late father Mewa Ramgobin was a struggle icon and Gandhian activist himself.

Source: The Indian Express
Photo source: India Today, britannica.com