YOLANDE DU PREEZ
A PHYSIOTHERAPIST who pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering has been ordered by the Pretoria Commercial Crime Court to repay R2.1 million to the Department of Labour’s Compensation Fund.
Jurry Sehunoe, 34, pleaded guilty last year to 15 counts of fraud and 26 counts of money laundering.
He was charged with Maxwell Ramaphosa and Samuel Mfeleng, both of whom are former employees of the department.
It was alleged that Ramaphosa and Mfeleng worked in collaboration with Sehunoe to claim money for patients who had not been seen by Sehunoe or who did not exist.
Last year, Sehunoe admitted to having received large sums of money that were channelled into his personal bank account and those of his businesses. These included a driving school and a construction company.
Sehunoe told the court he was prepared to compensate the Department of Labour for the money deposited fraudulently into his accounts.
After Sehunoe pleaded guilty, the trial of Ramaphosa and Mfeleng was separated and transferred to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.
Sehunoe was told by the court that he was the “mastermind of his actions”.
Sehunoe, who is from Rustenburg, North West, and out on bail of R3 000, was to have been sentenced on January 17, but court proceedings were halted by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU).
The AFU filed an application for an order to conduct an inquiry into his assets.
Advocate Boitumelo Moalusi, who represented the AFU, told the court that the full amount from “ill-gotten gains” was recoverable.
The court also heard from Moalusi that to date, the State had recovered more than R800 000, part of which had been paid to SARS and auditors who carried out the inquiry.
Defence advocate Keitumetse Mogale argued it was not fair for Sehunoe to be solely liable for repaying the State.
“My client has acknowledged his role in the crime and appeals to the court to be lenient. It would be unfair for him to repay solely what was ill gotten from the State,” she said.
Magistrate Nikki Setshogoe retorted that as a beneficiary of proceeds, and in view of the principle of acting in common purpose, Sehunoe was liable to pay the department the full amount.
She said the State had been granted a confiscation order to recoup R2.1m defrauded from the department, in line with prescriptions of the Organised Crime Act.
Sehunoe would also be liable to pay a daily interest rate of 15.5 percent from the date of judgment yesterday.
Ramaphosa and Mfeleng are appearing in two separate fraud cases.
In one case they are alleged to have been part of a syndicate of seven employees, one of them a doctor, accused of defrauding the Compensation Fund of about R1m.
In the other case they are among a trio who are alleged to have worked, while they were employees of the department, in collaboration with a physiotherapist and are accused of defrauding the department of about R500 000. In both these cases the syndicate members are out on a warning.
Sehunoe was told that if he felt it necessary, he should pursue a civil claim against Ramaphosa and Mfeleng.
The matter was adjourned to August 28 for submission of pre-sentencing reports by social workers and Correctional Services officials.