Witness in child prostitution case 'pathological liar'
16 March 2016, 17:35
Durban – A key witness in a child prostitution ring case is a “pathological liar”, a Durban magistrate said on Wednesday.
Veena Budhram's evidence had to be treated with caution, Magistrate Simphiwe Hlophe said while handing down judgment in the trial that started in 2013.
Umhlanga-based doctor Genchen Rugnath, his wife Ravina, and their co-accused Sandile Patrick Zweni, Nonduzo Dlamini, and Bhabha Dubazini, had all pleaded not guilty to 156 charges, including assault, rape, sexual exploitation of a child, and racketeering.
Zweni allegedly operated a prostitution ring with girls as young as 12 from the Rugnath's hotel, the Inn Town Lodge.
Budhram was a former manager at the hotel and was one of those initially charged in the matter, but turned state witness.
Hlope said Budhram stole from the business and spent large sums of money going to casinos, making car payments for her nephew, donating it to a cancer association, or attending lunch meetings. She embezzled money from the hotel by claiming them as plumbing or maintenance expenses.
She ran a catering business from 2003 until 2012, while managing the hotel, and managed to conceal this from the Rugnaths, despite claiming to have been under their constant supervision.
“This witness is a pathological liar. The girls gave evidence that they did not know the doctor and his wife.
“Veena would tell the girls not to loiter when she knew the doctor was coming. If the doctor’s wife was visiting the premises often and knew about what was happening, what would be the need to hide the girls?”