Compensation claims ‘were suspicious’

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Independent Newspapers

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Pretoria - Numerous claims submitted to the Compensation Fund by a Northern Cape doctor were suspicious, the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court heard on Monday.

A former forensic investigator at the labour department, Tshepo Wilfred Sexwale, testified that he and another investigator, Jabu Zwane, travelled from Pretoria to the Northern Cape to verify Ephraim Tebogo Kaeletsa's submissions.

Kaeletsa worked as a general practitioner from his surgery in Pampierstad, Hartswater.

“When one observed the claims, you would see there was something suspicious about them. When we asked Kaeletsa to give us his records of the patients he said he did not have any records,” Sexwale said.

“As investigators, we had looked at the nature of the injuries (for the supposed patients) and the dates of the payments. It was in a short space of time.

“The geographical location was also suspicious. There were workers who were based in KwaZulu-Natal, but were supposedly treated by Dr Kaeletsa in the Northern Cape,” said Sexwale.

Kaeletsa allegedly submitted false claim forms to the Compensation Fund for patients he had never seen or treated.

The fund is a public entity, under the labour department, whose function is to provide compensation for people injured at work, or who fall ill because of their work.

The doctor was arrested in August 2010, and charged with defrauding the fund out of almost R700 000.

Sexwale said that during the February 2010 visit to Kaeletsa's surgery, the investigators asked him to accompany them to the nearest police station to make an affidavit.

“He said there was something he wanted to tell us. He said it was in relation with the payments he had received from the Compensation Fund. He told us that he had seen that the matter was serious and wanted to tell the truth,” Sexwale said.

Sexwale told the court that while they were at the Pampierstad police station, Kaeletsa confessed.

“Dr Kaeletsa said he submitted the false claims with assistance from an employee of the fund. He then gave us the name of the official as Kabelo Senne,” Sexwale testified.

Kaeletsa's lawyer, Simon Molele, said his client was threatened into writing an incriminating statement.

“He was going to write a statement, saying he had not treated the people you were inquiring about. Then Zwane switched on his laptop and started dictating to him what to write in the affidavit,” said Molele.

“Zwane told Kaeletsa that they could not have driven from Pretoria for nothing. He told him (Kaeletsa) that he would be detained if he refused to write the statement as Zwane wanted,” the lawyer said.

The State called another witness, Heather-Lee Merington, a risk consultant at the Compensation Fund.

She said the fund had deposited money into Kaeletsa's Standard Bank account.

Prosecutor Margaret Thulare said she would call more witnesses when the matter resumed on October 8.

Magistrate Dawie Jacobs extended Kaeletsa's R5000 bail. - Sapa


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