Two pharmacists arrested for fraud

Stan Mzimba

Stan Mzimba

Two part-time pharmacists have been arrested and charged after a medicine theft scam was uncovered at the Mthatha Hospital Complex.

Ortrum Meisner-Krich, 43, and Norah Katende-Kyende, 39, appeared in the Mthatha magistrates' court on Wednesday.

The pharmacists, who also lecture at the Walter Sisulu University, were bust on Tuesday afternoon after a year-long investigation. Police allegedly found medicine worth about R15000 at their homes.

According to court documents, the suspects arranged for "patients" to consult a doctor. After the consultation, the "rented patient" would give the card to the pharmacists and leave. The medication would allegedly be collected later by the accused.

A senior member of hospital personnel who has worked at the complex for nearly 10 years, said the arrests could be just the tip of the iceberg.

When the swoop was made in the pharmacy section of the hospital, police and security guards found "patients" with recently dated cards containing prescriptions for medicine.

According to hospital regulations, patients must take their cards with them after collecting their medication. The source, who was part of the search team, said there were several cards on which the accused had prescribed medicines. Pharmacists may not prescribe medicines, only doctors can. There were also cases where doctors ordered medicine directly from suppliers and delivered to the ward where the doctors worked.

Hospital media liaison officer, Luxolo Tyali, declined to comment because the matter is still before the court.