Car rental boss charged for swindling R2.8m from Covid-19 TERS
The Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation team swooped in on the 34-year-old director after he was traced.
The director of a car rental company in the Western Cape appeared in the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on charges of fraud, after it was alleged that he swindled over R2,8 million out of the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS).
According to police spokesperson, Zinzi Hani, the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation team swooped in on the 34-year-old director on 8 March 2023, at this place of work.
Hani said, that the suspect had allegedly submitted applications to the Department of Employment and Labour claiming that he was acting on behalf of his staff at Car Rental Africa. He handed in claims for the Covid-19 TERS.
“Through an intensive investigation, it was revealed that the individuals who were making these claims were actually not employed by Car Rental Africa.
“We found that in fact, these were just individuals known to the director or individuals who rented motor vehicles from Car Rental Africa. Some of them were unemployed or working somewhere else,” Hani said.
She added that through their investigations, they managed to eventually trace the suspect and place him under arrest. He was charged with fraud, amongst other charges.
In a separate incident, earlier this month, a Zimbabwean national was sentenced to a year imprisonment after he stole the identity of a South African National Defence Force worker, to access pay-outs from the Covid-19 TERS.
According to Kaizer Kganyago, from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), the accused, Admirer Sibanda, committed identity theft in March 2020, by assuming the persona of Betwel Juwele, a member of the South African Defence Force (SANDF).
He used this false identity to file for UIF-TERS benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund during the national state of disaster.
Shortly after submitting the applications, Kganyago said he received the payout and continued to do so until April 2021.
Following these events, Betwel Juwele applied for TERS benefits. It was during this process that officials noticed a duplication in identity numbers and names.
Kganyago said that the matter was brought to the attention of the SIU, who commenced investigations into the case. Their findings revealed that Admirer Sibanda had committed fraud by stealing Betwel Juwele’s identity.
As a result, Sibanda was arrested by the South African police in East London, in December 2022, and he later confessed to the crime.
*Compiled by Devina Haripersad