A private medical practitioner and two National Social Security Authority (NSSA) employees have been arrested for fraudulently obtaining funds from NSSA for a fake surgical operation.
The court heard the trio, through a modus operandi of submitting invoices for non-existing surgeries, allegedly defrauded NSSA of over ZWL$3m.
Kelvin Tendai Kaseke a medical practitioner at Dr Kaseke Surgery in the CBD, Edmore Mhuru who is a principals officer at NSSA and Xolani Dube who is a senior benefits officer at NSSA all appeared before Bulawayo Provincial magistrate Shepherd Mjanja.
The trio, through their legal representatives, pleaded not guilty to fraud and were granted ZWL$5000 bail each.
The court heard that the trio connived to fraudulently acquire surgery funds for one Simon Chimhere, who allegedly hurt his ankle in 2019 while he was employed at Lobels.
The alleged offence came to light after Chimhere’s wife, who is also employed at NSSA intercepted the receipt and made inquiries.
The wife, Ayitatu Moyo, relayed information that Chimhere (her husband) had fully recovered hence had no need to undergo the purported surgery.
Receipts for the surgery were allegedly crafted by Kaseke, who took them to Mhuru for acknowledgment and were then taken to Dube for approval.
“The aforesaid invoice was submitted by Kaseke to Mhuru, who acknowledged the receipt of the invoice by stamping it. Mhuru in turn submitted the invoice to Dube who is the senior benefits officer for processing. The invoice was ultimately submitted to Accounts department for payment after Mhuru had authorised for the payment to be effected.”
On October 8, Chakabuda said, Moyo intercepted the transaction before payment when she realised that Chimhere who was reported to undergo urgent medical surgery was her husband.
“Moyo queried why her husband was to undergo surgery yet he had healed his ankle long back. She went on to check for Chimhere’s details in the NSSA system and the claim was subsequently rejected,” he said.
“On October 12 the trio, still acting in common purpose, edited the same file and changed the first name of the claimant, removed invoice and replaced it by another bearing a new name Samson Chimhere as initially submitted. The invoice had been originated from Kaseke’s surgery and bore the same amount of money.”
Chakabuda said due the offence, NSSA suffered a potential prejudice of ZWL$177 326.6.
“Further investigations revealed that the accused persons had committed similar offences and defrauded NSSA of amounts of money. As a result of the prejudice, the complainant suffered an actual prejudice of ZWL$3 616 045.55 and nothing was recovered,” he said.