Sham doctor case leads police to fake identity syndicate within home affairs
More than 370 fraudulent documents issued by public servants
An investigation into the two identity documents belonging to bogus doctor Kingsley Leeto Chele led to police cracking an alleged syndicate involving home affairs officials who are accused of selling documents to illegal immigrants.
A source close to the investigations has revealed how the syndicate had issued over 370 fraudulent documents and had been charging more than R2,000 per applicant.
It is alleged that the syndicate has been running since 2020, whereby IDs, birth, death and marriage certificates were produced at night and over the weekend without management’s knowledge and sold to undocumented immigrants.
Police have since arrested two officials from the home affairs branch in Randfontein – Mzamo Mbilini, 41 and Lebogang Sunduzwayo, 41 – and former employee Charlotte Bens-Edward, 40.
The trio is facing charges of fraud and corruption.
Bens-Edward worked as an administration clerk for 17 years while Sunduzwayo and Mbilini were employed as public service clerks from September 2006 and July 2010, respectively.
Bens-Edward was responsible for capturing information on the department of home affairs system.
A source close to the investigation said, “The police are working with Sassa (SA Social Security Agency) and the human settlements department because it is alleged that these fraudulent IDs have or might have been used to obtain RDPs or might be used to get grant money by undeserving beneficiaries, and we cannot rule out the possibility that these IDs were used to scam people,” said the source.
Department of home affairs media manager David Hlabane said internal investigations were conducted but Bens-Edward resigned in January 2022, saying she was joining her partner in a business venture in Cape Town, Western Cape.
This was before she could face disciplinary processes.
“The counter corruption branch of the department investigated and finalised three cases concerning Bens-Edward and two cases against Sunduzwayo and after finalisation they were referred to disciplinary hearings. [The] Bens-Edward matter was referred to the SAPS [and] with regards to Mbilini, there was no case investigated [initially]. However, he now faces an internal investigation,” he said.
“This means that the department could not finalise the enquiry [on Bens-Edward]. However, a misconduct marker was placed on the government payroll system. [This means] the department would be aware if she attempts to re-enter the public service system and we would then alert the employer to finalise the disciplinary hearing as per amended Section 16B(4) of the Public Service Act 1994.
“Meanwhile, Sunduzwayo was still undergoing the disciplinary hearing process [conducted] by human resources management and is now facing another investigation based on the information presented by police,” Hlabane said.
Hlabane emphasised that the department had removed the fraudulent documents on the National Population Register.
"They will never be usable by anybody... In line with the department’s zero tolerance for fraud and corruption, the department is ready to pursue all allegations brought to its attention," he said.
Bens-Edward was arrested on October 26 and is out on R500 bail.
She implicated Mbilini and Sunduzwayo, who were then arrested at their workplace on November 9.
Chele was arrested on October 2 for posing as a medical doctor who used his Facebook page to lure health workers to invest in his nonexistent pharmaceutical business.
According to a police insider, he has allegedly taken more than R1.2m from his victims.
Chele is facing numerous charges of fraud as well as car theft and escaping from police custody.
In his previous court appearance, the state said it was in possession of two SA identity documents belonging to Chele.
He has presented himself as a 17-year old but a district surgeon test done about two weeks ago estimated him to be in his early 20s.
The National Prosecuting Authority is still waiting for Interpol results on his identity verification.
Sunduzwayo and Mbilini are expected to apply for bail this week, while Chele’s matter will be heard on December 1.
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