High court orders retired surgeon to repay R7m ‘pension payout’

The judge disagreed with the doctor’s contention that he genuinely believed the payment was a pension payout.

Dr Lizo Mazwai, a Mthatha-based medical surgeon, received more than R7 million in his bank account. He said he genuinely believed it was his pension payout. And he proceeded to spend it as he wished.

Grahamstown High Court yesterday ordered retired Mazwai to return R7.08 million, as the “medical scheme mistakenly credited” him. He was slapped with 9.5% interest backdated to January 2016.

Mazwai, a former dean of Walter Sisulu University medical school, challenged the medical scheme’s demand to repay the money, and told the court he believed it was a “legitimate pension payout”, and spent the money.

TimesLive reports Mazwai’s claim to the Government Employees’ Medical Scheme (Gems) was compiled and submitted by Medical EDI Services, but instead of claiming for one operation at a cost of R2 800, a claim was made for payment for 2 469 operations at that price.

The result was a bill of more than R7 million being submitted to Metropolitan Health, which administers claims on behalf of Gems.

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Mazwai used the “windfall” to pay off debts, with the balance of R2.5 million “put into an interest-bearing trust account”.

When he refused to reimburse the amount after being alerted to the chain of events that resulted in a healthy bank balance, the matter ended up at Grahamstown High Court, where acting judge Nicola Redpath-Molony ordered him to repay the “pension” and also bear applicants’ costs.

The website of the office of health standards compliance, or the health ombudsman, lists Professor Mazwai as its chairperson.

“He [Mazwai] is currently a specialist surgeon in private practice and volunteer consultant responsible for training in surgery at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha.

“He is a member of the Eastern Cape Planning Commission, former chair of the South African Medical Research Council board, and has served as senior vice-president of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa,” his bio reads.



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