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Unjust Enrichment and Psychic Extortion: A Case Overview

Psychic court room money

Aheer and Another v Govender (7098/2020P; 7136/2020P) [2024] ZAKZPHC 7

Do Psychic Abilities Justify Financial Gain? An Examination of Aheer v Govender

In the intriguing case of Aheer and Another v Govender, a dispute over unjust enrichment took a mystifying turn when the defendant’s claims of psychic abilities led to a legal showdown. But can communicating with the afterlife justify financial demands? Let’s unravel the details and consequences of this case.


What Led to the Legal Battle?

The plaintiffs sought to reclaim substantial funds from Govender, who claimed psychic abilities, alleging communication with the first plaintiff’s deceased mother. Payments to Govender escalated, not out of belief or free will but under the shadow of coercion and threats.


Legal Definitions at the Core:

  • Unjust Enrichment: This occurs when someone benefits at another’s expense unjustly.
  • Fraudulent Misrepresentation: Involves deceitful statements that prompt another to take action, causing harm.
  • Extortion: Here, it references acquiring benefits through intimidation or threats.


The Court’s Verdict:

The court sided with the plaintiffs, decreeing that G repay the first plaintiff R4,992,778.61 and the second plaintiff R540,000.00, with added interest until full payment is made. The ruling was also sent to the National Director of Public Prosecutions, hinting at potential criminal proceedings against G.


Noteworthy Judicial Comments:

  • On Extortion: “Extortion, aimed at obtaining an advantage in the form of payment, offends the rights of the first plaintiff.” [Para. 49]
  • On Illegality: “The second contract was, accordingly, entered into for an illegal purpose and is thus illegal. The first plaintiff is entitled to restitution.” [Para. 50]
  • On Evidence: “The probabilities favor the evidence of the plaintiffs and the experts.” [Para. 56]


Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What constitutes unjust enrichment?
    • It’s when one party gains at another’s detriment without a valid reason.
  2. Can alleged psychic predictions lead to legal repercussions?
    • If used to deceive and coerce, they can indeed result in legal actions.
  3. What does the court’s directive to the National Director of Public Prosecutions imply?
    • It suggests that the defendant’s actions might not just be civilly wrong but criminally prosecutable.
  4. How does the law view contracts entered into under duress?
    • They are often considered illegal and void, leading to the right to claim restitution.
  5. Is the threat of a lawsuit a common aftermath of psychic services?
    • While not common, if deception and extortion are involved, legal consequences are quite possible.

The case of Aheer and Another v Govender cautions against the misuse of claims of paranormal abilities for financial exploitation, emphasizing the legal tenets protecting individuals from such unjust practices.


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