Court stops R39m payments to controversial lawyer Zuko Nonxuba amid fraud investigation
More arrests are expected in the multibillion-rand medico-legal claims that involves, among other people, the controversial lawyer Zuko Nonxuba in the Eastern Cape.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said this on Tuesday after both the health department and the SIU successfully interdicted Nonxuba from making two claims worth R39m from the department.
SIU spokesperson Nazreen Pandor said: "The investigation into fraudulent medico-legal claims is ongoing and, based on the evidence gathered thus far, we expect more arrests in due course."
Last month, during his state of the province address, outgoing Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle said the delivery of health in the province had not been without challenges, with the biggest concerns being the medico-legal claims estimated to be at R23bn.
A medico-legal liability report is a report prepared by a medical specialist for use as evidence in legal proceedings, which sets out the medical specialist's opinion as to certain aspects of the claimant's claim.
On Tuesday, the SIU and the Eastern Cape health department managed to interdict and stop two payments of R26m and R13m to Nonxuba Inc.
After appearing in court last month, Nonxuba allegedly instructed a sheriff in Centurion to demand the payments from the department. "This was brought to the attention of the head of SIU, advocate Andy Mothibi, who swiftly instructed the SIU legal team to work with the Eastern Cape health department and the Gauteng sheriff to initiate a legal process to stop these further payments," said Pandor.
On Tuesday, the Mthatha High Court granted both the SIU and the health department an order to stop the payments to Nonxuba.
"As a result of this high court order, the SIU and the Eastern Cape provincial department of health managed to interdict and stop two payments of R26m and R13m to an attorney from Nonxuba Inc," said Pandor.
Last month Nonxuba, a controversial lawyer, was arrested on allegations of fraud involving medico-legal claims to the value R90m.
His arrest followed an intensive investigation by the SIU and the Eastern Cape health department. The investigation revealed a number of fraudulent medico-legal claims.
Nonxuba was arrested in a Mthatha hotel and spent time in police holding cells before appearing in the Mthatha Magistrate's Court the following day.
Magistrate Bhekisa Mbonjeni granted him bail of R80,000 on condition that he hand in his passport. He is expected back in court on March 25.
The Hawks in the Eastern Cape said Nonxuba allegedly submitted false claims to the health department and in one case allegedly accused nurses of being negligent towards two women giving birth in Mthatha and Ngcobo hospitals.
Hawks spokesperson Capt Anelisa Feni at the time said Nonxuba was arrested by the serious commercial crimes investigation unit. Feni said the Hawks managed to prevent the payments on both claims.
In 2017 the Eastern Cape health department appointed international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright to manage and investigate medico-legal claims amounting to billions of rands which were claimed from the department by a number of lawyers.
The firm is working with prominent Eastern Cape law firm Smith Tabata. The department, which relied on state attorneys to defend claims, has lost cases worth hundreds of millions of rands. At the time the department had won only four cases out of 155 medico-legal claims brought against it since 2014.
The consortium was appointed by the former health MEC, Dr Pumza Dyantyi, as she was not happy with the way the department was represented by the state attorney’s office.