medical aid fraudster is found guilty

Dudu Busani

Dudu Busani

Controversial reflexologist Hilda Khoza has been found guilty on 143 charges of medical aid fraud.

Khoza, 41, faces a jail term of 10 years if the state has its way.

She had originally faced 370 charges of fraudulently claiming money from 20 medical aid schemes by using false pretences.

Khoza is a reflexologist who caused controversy when she claimed that child Aids activist Nkosi Johnson was only suffering from constipation and was perfectly healthy.

Nkosi Johnson was at the time fighting for his life and died three days later on June 1 2001.

Before her arrest in 2005, Khoza used a false Medscheme practice number to claim money for her patients' treatment. She also used the name of a dead physiotherapist and homeopath to process claims.

Passing judgment in the Johannesburg magistrate's court yesterday, magistrate Paul du Plessis said the fact that some of Khoza's patients knew that she was submitting the claims illegally was not relevant.

"What is relevant is that the accused knew it was unlawful. She approached people and offered to assist them with the unused benefits of their medical aid.

"There had to be someone inside Medscheme that she was working with because she could not have operated alone."

Pleading in mitigation of sentence, Khoza's defence counsel advocate Pinkie Mogatla said the 38 months she had spent awaiting trial, the loss of her social standing, her two children and the fact that she lost her house and car were grounds for a lighter sentence.

Mogatla pleaded for a five-year sentence, half of it suspended.

But state advocate Chris Smith wants a 10-year sentence. He said Khoza's actions were unacceptable for "a registered, professional health practitioner".

Deon Lourenco of Tshepo Forensic Services, a unit that investigated Khoza for five years, said he was satisfied with the outcome. Khoza will be sentenced today.