South Africa 15.8.2018 06:40 am

‘Cartels extorting billions’ through state attorney’s office are in SIU’s sights

Justice Minister Michael Masutha during a press briefing at the GCIS Pressroom, 14 August 2018, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Justice Minister Michael Masutha during a press briefing at the GCIS Pressroom, 14 August 2018, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

State attorneys allegedly deliberately botched cases and colluded with lawyers to defraud the state of up to R80bn.

Dodgy doctors and crooked lawyers will feel the might of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) as it probes cartels and networks that are trying to extort billions through the state attorney’s office. This would include health practitioners who colluded with fraudster lawyers.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi yesterday responded to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s proclamation authorising the SIU to probe allegations levelled by various parties against the office of the state attorney.

According to reports, state attorneys deliberately botched cases and colluded with private lawyers to defraud the state of up to R80 billion of taxpayers’ money.

READ MORE: How state lawyers have robbed SA blind, to the tune of R80bn – report

At the department of health, which was the worst affected by the alleged fraud, claims from attorneys have totalled more than R56 billion, Motsoaledi said.

Out of the R56 billion, R100 million was claimed by two lawyers. One was a R70 million claim for a botched circumcision, but the department discovered no circumcision was ever performed.

Motsoaledi said the second false claim was for a case of cerebral palsy allegedly caused by maladministration in a state hospital in the Eastern Cape.

“I observed this and questioned what kind of adverse event could lead to them claiming this amount of money alone? I probed it and they withdrew the claim,” said Motsoaledi.

“Lawyers told me that those submitting such claims, if medical, get a doctor to advise them and write a report. But what doctor can support a claim of R70 million against the state for a circumcision that never took place? I have already submitted that case to the Hawks.

“The cerebral palsy case also never existed. And also, there was a doctor who helped [lawyers] to fill out those papers since they used terms that are quite medical. I want people arrested.”

Last month, President Ramaphosa signed off on a proclamation to investigate the office following numerous complaints of the manner in which state litigation was handled by some officials in the state attorney’s office, resulting in unnecessary financial and other losses.

SIU head Andy Mothibi said it would take at least 12 months to investigate the alleged fraud and corruption in the state attorney’s office.

INFO:

Allaying public concerns

  • SIU head Andy Mothibi said the investigations would help the justice department lay to rest concerns raised by members of the public.
  • “In addition to the investigation by the SIU, disciplinary action as well as criminal investigation will be initiated against alleged perpetrators to uproot corrupt activities,” Mothibi said.

rorisangk@citizen.co.za 

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