‘Magic healer’ gets 15 years
Conwoman stole rings, thalis from pensioners
M OTHER of two Charlene Singh will miss the most important years of her kids’ lives after being sent to prison for 15 years for conning 30 pensioners.
Singh, 33, of Pietermaritzburg, ripped off the folk, most of them elderly, of goods worth R600 000 under the guise of being a massage therapist with special healing magnets.
Appearing in the Durban Regional Court last Thursday, Singh pleaded guilty to 30 counts of theft, possession of cocaine and attempting to escape from custody.
She claimed her drug addiction was behind the fraud committed with the help of her friend and ex-boyfriend.
Singh would pretend to massage her victims for free and ask them to remove their jewellery that apparently hindered the full healing power of the magnet.
She would then rush off to her car for a “pain-relief ointment” and never return.
Hawks policeman Captain Jageesh Devnarain Singh, from the Pietermaritzburg Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, stepped in after a string of isolated cases with the same modus operandi were reported at various police stations.
Victims began sharing their experiences on Facebook and warned the public about the conwoman. This led to more than 30 cases being opened, all pointing to the same person.
Devnarain circulated the information and was called by Durban Point SAPS regarding a couple who were arrested for cocaine possession. He traced Singh to Westville Prison and charged her.
Magistrate Fariedha Mohamed sentenced Singh to 15 years, six months for each count against her.
Devnarain said Singh had helped herself by pleading guilty.
“If she did not then she would have been given a much longer sentence.”
He said her victims were mostly concerned about the priceless items stolen such as wedding rings, thalis, and religious pictures and objects.
He warned people to be cautious when allowing strangers into their homes.
“Don’t open your gates to anyone, no matter how convincing they can be. Secure your property and beware of fraudsters who easily trick people to get what they want.”
Singh’s former mother-in-law, Rahena Khan, 58, however, described her as a wonderful daughter-in-law and mother to her 11-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son.
“My heart goes out to her. We are upset that she was given such a long sentence. While we understand that she has done wrong, there are people who are far more dangerous and are getting away with lighter sentences.”
Singh’s victims were happy with the sentencing and hoped her time in prison would help her reflect on the financial and emotional trauma she had caused to others.
Pinetown pensioner Ann Preen, 82, said people who were able to live with the guilt after targeting the elderly deserved to be behind bars.
She fell prey to Singh when she accidentally cracked a vertebra in her lower back and needed relief from constant pain.
“I’m not sure how she managed to get onto the property but she knocked on my door and was well spoken. She said she was from a wellness clinic that had developed a groundbreaking treatment for pain relief. I allowed her to come in and while I was on my back, she made an excuse to get a paper and pen from the other room. She was very quick; in a matter of minutes she took everything and by the time I realised something was wrong, she was gone.”
Preen said Singh took her laptop, cellphone, wedding ring and purse, as well as her phone book with all her contacts so she was unable to call for help.
“It’s as if she thought of everything.”
Durban resident Merle Khan, 53, is troubled by her lost valuables.
“I am pleased with the sentence but just disappointed that my goods were not recovered. She took my gold chain with a locket, tablet and cellphone, and irreplaceable photos of my mum whom I lost a year ago.”
Khan recalled the day Singh came to her beachfront flat.
“She had my full medical history. She rang the bell and gave security all my details. Security followed protocol and buzzed me to let me know I had a visitor. He gave the phone to Singh who I agreed to come down to meet.
“But as I opened my gate, she was already standing in front of me, talking continuously about a magnet that would help me. I kept saying to her I am not interested but before I knew it, she began rubbing ointment on me, distracting me with her non-stop chatting, taking full advantage of me. She then left, with all my valuables.
“I hope she learns that she will never get back those years again.”
A teary eyed Charlene Singh as she pleaded guilty to 30 counts of theft.