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Valabhji couple back in court over detention of property |03 December 2022

The Supreme Court is to give its ruling in the matter involving the Valabhji couple, Laura and Mukesh, and the other party, the Commissioner of Police, on December 9.

It was on November 9 that court extended the period for detention of the Valabhji couple’s Morne Blanc property for a further 60 days, subject to determination of the objections by the couple.

Following the filing of written submissions, court heard the parties yesterday.

Counsel for Mrs Valabhji, Samantha Aglae, in support of objections regarding the detention order, stated that despite the Order being applicable for one particular property, the police officers are occupying and vandalising the adjoining property as well.

According to her, the police officers refuse to leave, and Mr and Mrs Valabhji do not have permission to the property to collect their personal belongings not under detention, and neither is their daughter.

Ms Aglae further stated to court that the state of the house is deteriorating despite the order that maintenance falls under the police’s responsibility, while under the detention.

She also argued that contrary to what the police say, there are no further searches being conducted on the property but access is still denied.

Ms Aglae further made submissions in support of the contempt of court motion. She stated that due to Mr and Mrs Valabhji’s complaints in court regarding conduct of the police at the premises, the court stated that the Republic needs to submit the inventory of items in the premises before the extension of detention order was to be made.

Ms Aglae states that such inventory was never provided and Mr and Mrs Valabhji are left not knowing what is going on at the premises while the state of both detained and not detained property is deteriorating.

Ms Aglae further stated that they are still awaiting the court's ruling in relation to certain applications, namely, for police to vacate the property not under the detention, for assets which are not under detention to be returned to Mr and Mrs Valabhji, for permission to remove personal belongings, permission to remove food for pets, as well as taking the vehicles not under detention on account that they need to be serviced.

For his part, Mr France Bonte, Counsel for Mr Valabhji, made further submissions in relation to contempt of court application, emphasising Mr and Mrs Valabhji’s right to property.

He stated that the court order was granted against a particular property, and the police need to vacate the property which is not under detention and which still fully belongs to the Valabhji couple.

He emphasised that assets which are not under detention order must be returned, otherwise there is no respect of right to property.

Mr Bonte submitted that the police need to follow the court order and the court needs to hold them in contempt if they don’t.

Meanwhile, Counsel for the Republic, Steven Powles, relied on the facts contained in the affidavits of Sergeant Davis Simeon, filed by him in reply to the objections and motion regarding contempt.

The Court made observations that the property under detention is also relevant to main case before the Chief Justice Rony Govinden, and inquired whether the property will eventually be exhibited in the main case as the detention cannot be extended endlessly.

It also stated that it would be more appropriate for the Republic to make the property an exhibit and deal with the issue before the trial judge in the main case, rather than bringing concurrent applications before a different court.


Compiled by Laura Pillay

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