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South African court hears illegal casino challenge

10 October 2006

SOUTH AFRICA – As reported by the South Africa Business Day: "The Constitutional Court will consider another challenge to the asset forfeiture provisions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act when it hears an appeal by a KwaZulu-Natal property owner who operated an illegal casino on his premises in Vryheid.

"In March, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld an appeal by the national director of public prosecutions, and ordered the forfeiting to the state of the property belonging to Shelgate Investments — a company that Kumarnath Mohunram had a sole interest in — because it was instrumental in an offence.

"…Another portion of the property was used for a glass and aluminium business. The appeal court found that profits from the illegal casino amounted to about R360000 during the year Mohunram ran the operation.

" … 'By erring and finding that the property in question was an instrumentality of an offence, the applicants have been unjustifiably deprived of their property,' their attorney, Anandroy Ramdaw, said in an affidavit.

"Ramdaw said the appeal court also erred in failing to consider whether the legislature intended that a person who engaged in an offence such as drug dealing was to be treated in the same way in forfeiture proceedings as a person who pursued legitimate business interests on the property and committed an offence simply by not having a licence to conduct such activity…"

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