Medical doctor charged in R25m Sassa disability grant fraud
A medical doctor charged with being part of a syndicate that allegedly defrauded the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) of more than R25m was granted R10,000 bail on Monday.
Dr Thabani Cebekhulu, 51, appeared in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes court on Monday for fraud. His name was added onto a charge sheet with 13 other accused whose trial date has been set for April 2021.
Cebekhulu was arrested on Friday after a warrant for his arrest had been issued nearly two years ago. It was revealed in court that Cebekhulu left KwaZulu-Natal to work at a hospital in Gauteng and later Bloemfontein, where he was arrested.
His co-accused are: Gabriel Ndlovu, 56, Balungile Mkhize-Mdletshe, 38, Beatrice Shandu, 48, Zandile Mlaba, 51, Jennifer Gumede, 47, Lindani Nyawose, 40, Zoleka Dzanibe, 42, Hlakaniphile Bhengu, 49, Lindiwe Ntema, 56, Minah Dludla, 54, Derrick Mbatha, 48, and Yena Shoba, 39.
According to court documents while working in the Ngwelezane area, in northern KZN, between 2001 and 2008, Cebekhulu and his co-accused are alleged to have processed fraudulent disability grants which caused “prejudice or potential prejudice to the South African Social Security Agency in the amount of R25,953,000.”
This was done by providing medical documents motivating applications for disability grants to be approved.
Cebekhulu will be back in court on October 28 and is expected to report to his local police station, in Bloemfontein.
After evidence of the fraudulent applications emerged, Sassa deployed a deputy director, Thembinkosi Dlamini, who uncovered the files and spoke to the beneficiaries of the fraudulent activities. Dlamini was subsequently gunned down inside his office six days after he started working on the case.
His death led to a parallel investigation by the Hawks’ serious corruption investigation task team. Six people were sentenced to life imprisonment for Dlamini’s murder.