Catholic priest arrested in baby formula scam

2011-04-30 07:59

A Roman Catholic priest has been arrested in Queenstown for possession of 1 000 tins of infant formula meant for government hospitals, the Eastern Cape health department said yesterday.

The priest allegedly sold 400g tins of the Nestle formula – clearly marked with the words “not for resale” – for R35 each, said spokesman Sizwe Kupelo.

“At certain instances, mothers were turned away by nurses in hospitals instructing them where to go purchase it, instead of getting it for free,” said Kupelo.

He said the department was considering asking the special investigating unit to probe the matter.

More arrests were expected as police and the department extended their operation to Dutywa.

“Another priest from the area is expected to be arrested this afternoon,” said Kupela.

He said 500 tins of baby formula, selling for R38 each, had been found.

Last year, Bangladeshis and Angolans were arrested after baby formula worth R121 000 was found in their shops in Libode. Some health officials were also arrested.

“We condemn the stealing of this infant formula and the alleged involvement of nurses. It looks like a huge syndicate. We are concerned because we spend R20 million a year to get this formula. Beneficiaries go hungry while these enrich themselves,” said Kupelo. 

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