THE state has called for sentences of life plus lengthy jail terms to be imposed on a former businesswoman and her two co-accused convicted of an intricate insurance scam involving murder. The defence on the other hand suggested suspended sentences and correctional supervision could be imposed. Ex-Johannesburg businesswoman Maryanne Tholile Dimba (45) and her co-accused, Linda Mdluli (47) and Sibusiso Buthelezi (30) of Durban were convicted in the Durban high court earlier this year on multiple counts each of murder, conspiracy to murder, racketeering and fraud. Their convictions arise from an intricate insurance scam in which the accused presented false identities and bodies to claim insurance money from various insurance companies between 2005 and 2008. The bodies of seven murder victims in respect of whom false claims were lodged have never been identified, Warrant Officer Danie Reyneke of the Organised Crime Unit testified yesterday. Judge Fikile Mokgohloa found that Dimba was the kingpin or “CEO” of the scam, which may also have involved others who are still at large. She said Dimba was responsible for all the planning, handled all the bank accounts and debit orders in respect of the insurance policies that were taken out, and told Mdluli and Buthelezi what to do. Each of the three was found guilty of the premeditated murder of one unknown man who was fed alcohol and ultimately stabbed to death at Verulam on October 17, 2007. Dimba was also found to have conspired to kill six other unknown people for purposes of claiming insurance. Mdluli and Buthelezi were each found guilty of one count of conspiracy to murder. Testifying in aggravation of sentence yesterday, the head of investigations for MMI Holdings (linked to Momentum and Metropolitan insurance companies), Peter Kerford, said fraud cost South Africa’s insurance industry R669 million arising from 5 466 cases in the past financial year alone. He said insurance fraud has increased over the past 10 years. “When I started in the forensics division 10 years ago we were four people in my department. I now run a team of 18 investigators,” he said. Kerford said his department budgeted R29 million this year to combat fraud. State advocate Nadira Moosa urged the court to impose minimum sentences of life imprisonment on each of the accused for the premeditated murder they’d committed, as well the counts of conspiracy to murder, and 15 years imprisonment in respect of each of the multiple fraud counts. She said Dimba was an educated woman and a former entrepreneur who’d “used her skills to fuel her greed”. Sentencing was postponed to December 11.