Prison for scammers

2017-11-21 14:09
Murder accused Mildred Khoza (left) and Hlengiwe Zuma were found guilty at the high court on Monday and sentenced to long prison terms.

Murder accused Mildred Khoza (left) and Hlengiwe Zuma were found guilty at the high court on Monday and sentenced to long prison terms. (Tania Broughton)

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Sheer greed enticed two women — one a nurse and the other a teacher — into crime, and now they are serving between 15 and 17 years in jail because of it.

Mildred Khoza (39) and Hlengiwe Zuma (54) — two members of the alleged “cash for bodies” insurance scam — on Monday pleaded guilty before Pietermaritzburg high court Acting Judge Sidwell Mngadi to charges of murder, attempted murder and insurance fraud.

In plea bargains read out by their advocate, Shane Matthews, they both denied being at the scene of the crimes — where their victims were “run over” — but said they had been instrumental in taking out the life insurance policies on them and “knew what was going to happen to them”.

In both cases, state advocate Attie Truter withdrew certain charges against them. Their trial was then separated from the three others accused of the same crimes — Joseph Khanyile, Mandla Khumalo and Doris Dladla/Zaca — and they remained in the dock on their own.

Truter told the court that the police investigation team and the victims’ relatives had all been consulted about the plea and had agreed to it.

Khoza, a Grade 10 to 12 teacher from Tugela Ferry, who was also involved in counselling children who have been sexually abused, said that during 2015 and 2016 she had been approached by Khanyile.

“He explained to me that he and others were looking for a suitable person with a payslip and a bank account to commit insurance fraud. I was told we could make a lot of money.

“I was told that one Mdlalose had stolen his brother Sonosakhe Mdlalose’s identity document.

“I agreed to be part of a plan which involved insuring him [Sonosakhe] and killing him,” she said.

She said she had “fraudulently” taken out insurance with Old Mutual, Hollard and Avbob.

“I admit that when I applied for the policies I was not authorised to do so nor was I entitled to claim on his death.”

Khoza said on March 19 last year, Mdlalose was “killed in a manner which made it look like an accident”.

“I was not involved in the killing nor was I present but was aware that he was to be killed … without minimising the crime, I was more of a facilitator.

“I am willing to assist the state by making a detailed statement and testifying against other persons charged.”

Judge Mngadi confirmed her negotiated sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment for the murder of Mdlalose and eight years for insurance fraud, ordering that the lesser sentence run concurrently.

Zuma, in her plea, told a similar tale. She said she had been approached by Dadla/Zaca to become part of the plan. She, too, had the requisite bank account and payslip because she was employed by the Department of Health as a HIV counsellor at Ethembeni clinic.

She admitted to insuring both Mdlalose and Thandeka Gwala who, while run over by a car, survived the incident.

She was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for the attempted murder of Gwala, 15 years for the murder of Mdlalose, and eight years for insurance fraud. Some of the sentences are to run concurrently and the effective sentence is 17 years. Neither woman showed any emotion as they were taken to cells beneath the court.

The other three accused will appear in court again on November 30 when they will either plead or a trial date will be set.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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