Pooja Nandkoomar originally of Palampur, India – now living in Durban – has gone up against three men, her South African husband, a misogynistic attorney and a Verulam court magistrate.
#DURBAN: As South Africa’s 16 Days of Activism has come to a close, the story of NRI Pooja Nandkoomar is certainly a story of strength. In her most recent court appearance, Nandkoomar has been awarded her first triumph in a quest for justice against her husband Durban businessman, Adhil Nandkoomar of Par Heavy Duty Spares.
Arranged marriage gone wrong
Nandkoomar was brought to South Africa due to an arranged marriage to the Durban businessman with whom she has two children. According to Nandkoomar her husband had forced her to sign a pre-divorce agreement threatening to send her back to India without her children. Pooja, who has no family, friends or support base in her new home in South Africa sought the help of the Indian Consular offices in Durban.
She was then referred to South African attorney, Theasen Pillay of TPA Legal.
Court hears of inhumane treatment
During the course of the litigation, Pooja became the subject of ongoing abuse and psychological torment from her husband. She alleges to have been subjected to undignified and inhumane treatment while with her husband.
The Court heard, in addition to the verbal and vulgar abuse, that Pooja was instructed to keep her food separately in a fridge in the garage, and how she was not allowed to be in her kitchen or cook her food when her husband’s parents were visiting.
The Court also heard that while Pooja was at work, her washing machine was removed, forcing her to wash her clothes by hand. In papers filed, Pooja claims that her husband noted ejectment to force her to into submission to his demands.
Misogynistic claims by Pearce, Du Toit & Moodie
When the matter was being argued at Court, Mr Johan Du Toit, from Pearce, Du Toit & Moodie, submitted that Pooja should not annoy her in-laws by being around when they are in the kitchen and other rooms as they have more rights to be there. Du Toit further stated to the Court that Pooja should stay in her room and go to the kitchen when his client’s family is done with their work.
Attorney Du Toit went on to claim that he did not see what Pooja is making a fuss about her food being in the fridge – kept in the garage, as the garage is so luxurious that he (Johan) doesn’t mind living in it.
Pooja’s attorney, Theasen Pillay, lashed out at Johan Du Toit, condemning his statements as unacceptably insensitive, ridiculous and insightful.
Magistrate Ms. V. Naidoo ruled that it was clear that Pooja was emotionally and psychologically abused. Magistrate Naidoo added that Pooja had been treated inhumanely. Naidoo also expressed her concern and displeasure at the arguments raised by Johan Du Toit. A Protection order has been issued against Adhil Nandkoomar.
Theasen Pillay claims that Pearce, Du Toit & Moodie have acted unethically, unbecomingly and have brought the legal fraternity reputation into disrepute by making such callous claims at Court. The Legal Practice Council has been informed and the matter is under review.
Pooja went back home because she must have missed the abuse.Magistrate Kathuravalu, Verulam Magistrate Court
When judgement was being handed down, an emotional Pooja broke down in tears of relief that justice prevailed. This after Magistrate Kathuravalu from the same Court had previously stated in open Court that Pooja “went back home because she must have missed the abuse”.
TPA Legal reported that the statement was not just demeaning but intolerable from any magistrate the matter has been referred to the Judicial Commission for investigation.