Cops bust pastor and doc for fraud

Mckeed Kotlolo and Sipho Masombuka

Mckeed Kotlolo and Sipho Masombuka

A Pretoria pharmacist and pastor, and his doctor friend have been arrested for defrauding medical aid schemes of millions of rands.

Obed Motlhamme Khalidzwe, 36, owns a chain of pharmacies in Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Limpopo and is a pastor of the Christian Embassy Universal Church.

He was arrested together with Dr Dovhani Revhangeni in Pretoria East yesterday.

"The two people's spouses will be included in the charge sheet as they are deemed to have benefitted from the fraud," the prosecuting authority said yesterday.

Police threatened to break down the door of the pharmacist's rented Silver Lake mansion when his family refused to open at 5.15am. His wife finally opened the door.

Police had to handcuff the remonstrating pharmacist in order to continue with their job. They confiscated documents and attached assets estimated at more than R2,5 million from his property. These included all household goods, seven bank accounts and seven luxury vehicles, three of which (bakkies) were missing from the premises.

One of the vehicles is a BMW X5 belonging to Khalidzwe's wife, with the personalised registration number "4 MYBABE GP". Others are a silver E 55 Merc, a Golf 5 (GTi) and a Mitsubishi Pajero.

The attached chemists are Tswelopele Pharmacy, Kwaggafontein Pharmacy (both in Kwaggafontein, Mpumalanga), Kingdom Pharmacy in Bochum and Moutse Mall Pharmacy, both in Limpopo, as well as Kings Pharmacy in Soshanguve, Pretoria. The sixth, Tubatse Pharmacy in Bronkhorstspruit, was reportedly closed. Also attached was the pharmacist's incomplete property, also situated in Pretoria East.

Captain Leonard Hlathi, of the Mpumalanga Organised Crime Unit, said all proceeds from Tswelopele Pharmacy went "directly to Khalidzwe's former optometrist wife's account. She is currently unemployed".

Police then moved to his accomplice's Kinross Street, Faerie Glen, home where documents, two bank accounts, a property in Cullinan and a surgery in Kwaggafontein, Mpumalanga, a computer and six vehicles, including three luxury German cars (ML 320 Merc, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4) were removed. The assets are estimated at more than R2 million.

The two allegedly colluded to defraud several medical aid schemes since January 2005. Khalidzwe allegedly submitted fraudulent claims to Metropolitan Health Corporate (Pty) Ltd, which administers all claims submitted on behalf of members of various medical schemes such as Polmed, Government Employees Medical Scheme and at least 13 others.

Khalidzwe allegedly sold groceries and other items at inflated prices to members of various medical aid schemes. The members would "pay" by allowing him to submit fraudulent claims through his various pharmacies on their behalf for medication not dispensed.

Dr Ravhengani would then provide prescriptions for medication not required and without consultation but submitted fraudulent claims to medical aid schemes.

The two face charges of fraud, theft, forgery and uttering in the Middelburg regional court. Charges of racketeering and money laundering in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1998 may be added.

Hlathi said they were due to appear in court yesterday but "we may be forced to take them to court tomorrow (Thursday) depending on the time we finished with the seizure operation".