Durban – The man who allegedly attempted to extort money from two Durban families who were in their most vulnerable state with missing loved ones was denied bail this week.
Brandon Moodley, 37, has been wanted by police since 2013. He was eventually arrested in June by members of the KZN Provincial Investigation Unit in Gauteng.
Moodley appeared before Durban Regional Court magistrate Anand Maharaj on fraud and an attempted extortion charges on Tuesday.
The extortion charge related to a R10000 demand made to Raylene Louw in August 2018. Her son Miguel had been reported missing at the time.
Louw was instructed to transfer the money via an e-Wallet, but she did not.
While Miguel’s body was found dumped in Phoenix, a month later, police did not suspect that Moodley had had a hand in the child’s death.
They also believe that Moodley directed a similar request to Sandra Munsamy’s family after she was kidnapped while driving in Pinetown in May 2019.
No formal charge has been made regarding the Munsamy extortion allegation.
The fraud charge against Moodley relates to when he allegedly collected a R2020 deposit form a Glencoe resident for the sale of a computer in 2013, but did not deliver.
Warrant Officer Rajan Govender of the Provincial Investigation Unit testified at the bail hearing.
Govender told how through cellphone analysis techniques, the identity of the caller to Louw was determined, and his subsequent call to Moodley requesting an interview.
Moodley said he would get his attorney Chris Gounden to facilitate a meeting, which was planned for the Phoenix police station (April 1, 2019), but Moodley never showed up in spite of informing Gounden on the day that he was on his way.
Govender was informed by his commander that Moodley contacted two high-ranking KwaZulu-Natal policemen and they asked for a meeting to be arranged at the unit’s Isipingo-base, but it never happened.
Govender said he received information in December that an “Indian male” was making demands from people in Gauteng for information on their loved ones.
They established that Moodley had relocated to Lenasia, and was living in a temple out-building.
When they entered the premises, Moodley’s father (Vincent) allegedly claimed his son’s name was “Deon”.
Moodley was in a bedroom with his wife and initially refused to unlock the door.
He was placed under arrest. On the drive back to Durban, Moodley told the policemen he felt unwell. Paramedics were called out. That was when the officers discovered Moodley’s family had hidden medication in his clothing, and he allegedly feigned suicide.
The paramedics confirmed that Moodley was “well”.
Govender said after a previous court appearance, as he escorted Moodley out of the building, he was approached by Vincent and a “white male”.
They used obscene language, lunged at him and tried to free Moodley, but with assistance from his team, they were able to fend off the men, who now face “aiding and abetting” charges.
Govender said the State had a strong case against Moodley.
He also said that the brother of Sandra Munsamy claimed to have paid money into an e-Wallet account and they will verify the claim.
Advocate Jay Naidoo, who represented Moodley, questioned why Govender mentioned the incident in Joburg and brought up the Munsamy allegations when he did not have confirmed evidence to back his claims.
“That’s because you want to embellish the evidence,” Naidoo said.
About the call to Louw, Naidoo said: “Who the exact caller was, we don’t know. All we know is that the phone belonged to Moodley.”
Naidoo doubted that Moodley admitted to being the caller, or else Govender would have mentioned it during his testimony.
Regarding the fraud charge, Naidoo said there was a dispute over what was owed which remained unresolved.
He said that Moodley had a fixed address with his sister in Shakaskraal, and questioned why police hadn’t yet verified the address.
Naidoo disagreed that Moodley was a “flight risk”.
Kuveshni Pillay, the State prosecutor, said Moodley had known since February 2017 about the fraud charge, and there was a “prima facie case” against him for attempted extortion.
Pillay repeated that Moodley was a flight risk, and that in Lenasia he had told police his name was “Deon”, which was not challenged by Naidoo.
Pillay also pointed out that Moodley did not honour a meeting at Phoenix, which showed that he was not someone to be trusted.
Maharaj also wondered whether Moodley could be trusted.
He probed why Moodley hadn’t submitted to police or chose a venue that suited him to meet them.
Maharaj said Moodley’s wife was unco-operative when police questioned her about his whereabouts on one occasion, that the father said his son’s name was Deon, and that he and another man clashed with police.
“Mr Naidoo’s argument was good, but not enough to convince me”, said Maharaj in denying bail.