Official held over death certificate scam

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

The health and social development department in Limpopo said it will institute internal disciplinary action against an official who was allegedly involved in the sale of death certificates.

Department spokesman Phuti Seloba said the official, a senior administration clerk at the Philadelphia Hospital in Dennilton, would be charged with misconduct. He said the department considered the case against the official, whose name is known to Sowetan, as very serious.

He was arrested on Monday after police set a trap following a tip-off by members of the public.

The man had allegedly been charging families whose relatives had died at the hospital R400 for a receipt which is used to apply for a death certificate from the Home Affairs Department.

The 44-year-old suspect allegedly forced a family that was reluctant to pay the money, insisting it was standard procedure to charge people for the receipts.

It was also allegedly discovered that the receipt book he had been using was no longer in use at the hospital.

Director Daniel Moenyane, the Dennilton station police commissioner, said as part of the trap, police made copies of the money the family was to give to the man.

A plain-clothed female police officer then accompanied the family members to hand over the money to the suspect.

The suspect pocketed the money in full view of the family members and the officer.

Other officers, who were watching from outside the suspect's office, pounced on him as soon as he pocketed the money.

"As a department we are going to act in the harshest way possible to ensure we set a precedence," said Seloba.

He appealed to other officials to refrain from taking advantage of illiterate communities by defrauding them.

"If found to be true, what the man did is a misuse of power and that is a serious misconduct," said Seloba.