UKZN gets court order to silence corrupt investigation claims

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The University of Kwazulu-Natal has turned to the court to silence claims that those investigating the sale of places at its medical school were corrupt. According to a Sunday Tribune report, the Durban High Court last week ordered Durban businessman Visham Panday to stop communicating with UKZN, its employees, and any third parties about the university’s multimillion-rand investigation dubbed “Operation Clever”.

The report says Panday, in an email (which forms part of the annexures in the motion brought by the university) sent to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, the university’s vice-chancellor, Nana Poku, and its head of legal services, advocate Paul Finden, made allegations about the operation’s lead investigator, Avril Sahadew.

The university brought an urgent application to stop Panday from “harassing” members of its investigative team. According to the report, the order says Panday should not contact UKZN staff, especially Finden, Sahadew and Finden’s secretary, Meena Udayapal.

In the founding affidavit deposed by Finden, he claimed Panday was harassing Sahadew over the telephone and was allegedly abusive on a call to Udayapal. He said Panday contacted Sahadew in June to give information about the Dayanand family of Pietermaritzburg.

The report says the Dayanand family includes Daymed hospital owner Dr Navind Dayanand and his son, Reshal, who was accused, in a KPMG fraud probe, of providing a fraudulently obtained medical degree to secure his internship with the Health Department. Reshal was subsequently investigated by the university, the outcome of which is unknown. Finden said Panday wanted to meet Sahadew at night without her bodyguards, who were employed for her protection following anonymous threats made against her. He claimed Panday had phoned Sahadew up to 20 times a day, including late at night. “The frequency and timing became an abuse,” said Finden.

“Over time, Sahadew and I were in regular contact and we developed a friendly relationship,” said Panday. He claimed the pair spoke via Whatsapp messages, phone and video calls. He said they met at the Riverside Hotel in Durban North in September with her bodyguards present. Panday said their relationship soured when Sahadew obtained an affidavit he made at a police station regarding an unrelated case. He claimed to have shared audio recordings with her related to the investigations. He alleged Sahadew shared these recordings with third parties.

Panday said the medical school investigation dragged on since 2016.

Finden said Panday followed-up with emails to Sahadew and himself, claiming Sahadew was corrupt.

The report says in his opposing affidavit, Panday denied several of the claims made by the university. Represented by advocate Pieter Haasbroek, he said he initially contacted Sahadew via Whatsapp to share findings from his own investigation into alleged corruption at the university’s medical school. He denied being abusive towards Udayapal over the phone.

Panday was restrained from making any defamatory comments to third parties about the university or its employees, the report says.

Sunday Tribune report

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