‘Magic healer’ gets 15 years

Con­woman stole rings, thalis from pen­sion­ers

Post - - Front Page - JA­NINE MOODLEY

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.”

PIC­TURE COURTESY OF TANIA BROUGHTON

A teary eyed Char­lene Singh as she pleaded guilty to 30 counts of theft.

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