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Durban - Two Zululand women got off lightly in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday when they were given suspended sentences for fraud, having confessed to insuring people they had not known and later cashing in on the policies.

Hlengiwe Nkosi, 50, who confessed to insuring three different people with several insurance companies, was given an eight-year suspended sentence while Thembeni Nsele, 41, received a four-year suspended sentence. She had insured one person with two different companies and had been paid out R50 000 in total.

Nsele’s share was R35 000 and the rest of the money went to the person who gave her the identity document of the person she had insured, and later a death certificate.

Nkosi had claimed a total of R220 000, but kept R100 000.

The two women were charged along with six others on seven counts of murder, theft and fraud, but only pleaded guilty to fraud, which the State accepted.

It had been alleged that between November 2010 and October 2012 they received identity documents belonging to people who were alive, or whose deaths were not reported to the Department of Home Affairs, and insured them.

People who bore some resemblance to those insured were allegedly killed. The women went to the mortuary, identified the dead and upon receiving a death certificate, claimed on the policies.

Acting Judge Sibusiso Mngomezulu said the women could be rehabilitated without being jailed.

He said it was clear that their benefit from the crimes was minimal when compared with their handlers. Neither had previous convictions and they both pleaded guilty. They also indicated they wanted to testify for the State when the trial against the other accused started next year.

The judge said this sort of crime had become a daily reality. This resulted in legitimate claimants having to wait for their claims to be paid out.

He said the women acted out of greed.

The Mercury