Durban - For seven years Durban broker Joachim Dimba ran an elaborate funeral policy scam involving bogus claimants and “deceased” who were still alive.
His office in the CBD had numerous fake official documents, blank marriage certificates that had date stamps from the Department of Home Affairs, as well as blank police affidavits - dated and stamped and waiting to be completed when a “death” was reported.
The father of five was employed as a broker at Lusaka - a subsidiary of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru).
But things began to unravel for Dimba, 39, when an employee became suspicious that something was amiss at the Durban branch.
An investigation that was carried out revealed the R700 000 loss. It also led to the arrest of a police officer for submitting a fraudulent claim.
On Friday, Durban Regional Court magistrate, Trevor Levitt, said the arrest of the policeman had led to Dimba’s arrest. Dimba was sent to prison for an effective five years.
The bogus “beneficiaries”, some who had testified against him, had already been prosecuted and convicted of fraud.
Dimba, of Mtwalume on the South Coast, was convicted and sentenced after a trial lasting more than three years.
He had pleaded not guilty in March 2011 to more than 150 counts of fraud, numerous counts of forgery of birth, death and marriage certificates, medical questionnaires, police statements and the uttering of these forged documents. He was found guilty on most of the counts.
The crimes stretched from 2001 to 2008 and had cost his employer, Lusaka, R700 000.
Dimba, who worked at the company’s Durban offices since 1999 as a broker whose main role was to bring in new business, was primarily involved in the sale of funeral policy cover to civil servants.
However, he had colluded with people he met either at Addington Hospital or police stations to make false claims against funeral policies.
The court heard that Lusaka’s brokers were not permitted to assist claimants in completing claim forms.
However, many of the company’s employees testified that they recognised Dimba’s handwriting on documents such as affidavits and medical reports.
The company found it impossible to contact some of the doctors on medical certificates handed in to support claims.
“Also, the police case numbers were false, as it didn’t pertain to the incident involving the deceased,” said Levitt.
A police report was required in the case of an unnatural death, and claim forms also had to be accompanied by a death certificate, copies of the beneficiaries’ and the deceased’s identity documents, proof of the relationship between the two, as well as the beneficiaries’ banking details.
It emerged during the investigation that Dimba had the keys to another broker’s office in the Durban CBD.
There police found date stamps belonging to the police; cut-outs of police certification stamps - all signed and dated allegedly by SAPS members - as well as marriage certificates and copies of IDs.
There were also testimonial letters, letters from different tribal authorities, and blank tax invoices as well as letterheads from funeral parlours.
Many of the medical questionnaires found were signed by three different doctors who had testified that their names and identity numbers in the documents were not made in their handwriting.
None of them recalled having any dealings with Lusaka.
The court heard that all the bogus beneficiaries were made to reimburse Lusaka half the money the company had lost.
They had kept half of the proceeds from claims; the other half had gone to Dimba.
Beneficiaries said they had met Dimba at Addington Hospital or at police stations and that he had contacted them to arrange false claims involving people who had not died.
Levitt said he would not make an order for Dimba to pay back the money he owed. Lusaka however could make a civil claim against Dimba.