A doctor who posed as an employee of the United Nations appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges of fraud and contravening the Disaster Management Act.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the doctor, Mort West McKenzie, 26, was arrested by the Hawks serious corruption investigation on Saturday in Rustenburg.
Mulaudzi said McKenzie had alleged that he was responsible for a Youth Movement Programme that focuses on giving South Africans youth community development opportunities abroad.
“The investigation into Dr McKenzie started in March this year when it was discovered that he held several meetings with complainants from February lobbying support for whoever wanted to join the programme as a volunteer to pay an amount of R1,500. He further went to convince the complaints that he was also distributing Covid-19 surgical masks to organisations and institutions and left them with six boxes to distribute to their communities.
“Convinced, the complainants introduced other people to Dr McKenzie and paid the R1,500 membership fee as demanded. Suspecting that something was amiss, the complainants requested his UN number for verification which never came out.
“As if that wasn’t bad enough, he similarly disguised himself and deceived Rustenburg Municipality officials that he was a UN official distributing personal protective equipment. He attempted to convince them to pay a sizable amount for his services whilst he will cover a portion of the fees.
“Dr McKenzie also managed to convince a Sandton businessman to procure surgical masks to the tune of R2 million for distribution to underprivileged communities. The Gauteng Hawks are dealing with the case and will be appearing in the Randburg court soon.
“The Hawks investigation discovered that Dr McKenzie was a Tanzanian national and was not an employee of the United Nations. It has also been confirmed that the suspect is not supposed to be in the Republic of South Africa as he was not issued with a passport by his country,” Mulaudzi said.
He said Dr McKenzie has been remanded in custody by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court pending his next appearance on 11 May.
The National Head of the Hawks, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya has welcomed the arrest.
“The Hawks will deal with any corrupt individual, entities, companies and organisations who intend on illegally helping themselves on the resources intended to fight Covid-19 pandemic. I have directed the team to also establish as to whether he is a qualified doctor,” said Lieutenant General Lebeya.
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)