18 February 2013

South Africa: State Calls for Imposition of At Least Five Years Sentence in the Matter of Self-Confessed Fraud Physio Sehunoe Accused of Defrauding Department of Labour

press release

The State in the matter of Jurry Bonewamang Sehunoe (35), the self-confessed fraud physiotherapist who defrauded the Department of Labour's (DoL) Compensation Fund (CF) R2,1-million, today (February 18) called for at least mandatory minimum sentence of five years to be imposed on the accused.

Appearing before Magistrate N. Setshogoe for submission of arguments in mitigation of sentence in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, Prosecutor Margaret Thulare to the Court that Sehunoe was convicted of a serious offence in that, "the offence committed by the accused does not only affect the Department of Labour, but also affect those who are in need of the money, those whom their documentation and/or claims used to pay these fraudulent claims to the accused".

"The community is looking at this Court to impose a sentence that will protect them; therefore the Court has a duty to maintain law and order," Thulare argued.

Sehunoe who hails from Rustenburg in the North West Province, confessed in October 2011 to defrauding the Department of Labour's CF R2,1-million. He pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud and 26 counts of money laundering. The fraudster is out on an extended bail of R3000.

The defence represented by Advocate Keitumetsi Mogale pleaded with the Court to impose a suspended sentence. Mogale argued that Sehunoe was a first time offender who pleaded guilty to all counts. Mogale testified that Sehunoe was married and divorced in 2011 and had three minor children aged eight, six and four years - who were born out of marriage. The ex-wife is unemployed and the three minor children depend on the accused for support.

"He showed remorse by not wasting the Court's time, taking the blame for what happened and explaining to the Court in detail as to how the offence was committed. He did not plan the offence by creating fictitious claims and submitting such to the Department of Labour for payment. He was just used as an instrument to commit an offence and failed to stop that. He failed to resist the temptation and fell into a trap," she said.

Mogale also took a dip at the Department of Labour blaming for a delay in the claims earlier submitted by Sehunoe. She said Sehunoe approached employees of the department for assistance and "that is where everything started".

According to the defence Sehunoe was a first time offender and that the State should consider that he and his family will not only lose income for survival, but that the Department of Labour will also not recover its stolen money.

It emerged in Court that an agreement reached by Sehunoe and State in terms of confiscation order last year, Sehunoe was to pay a sum of R35 000 every quarter to repay back the Department of Labour, but to date he has only made one payment of R11 000 in August 2012.

Mogale argued that because the case was receiving prominence in the media, the public was shunning Sehunoe's practice and that doctors/hospitals no longer refereed patients to him, thus he lost income.

Sehunoe was originally charged with two co-defendants - Maxwell Ramaphosa and Samuel Mfeleng - who are both former employees of the Department of Labour. The matter of Ramaphosa and Mfeleng was in a separation of trial transferred to the Pretoria Magistrate's Court after Sehunoe's plea. The duo has pleaded not guilty in the matter. They are also out on a bail of R3000.

Ramaphosa and Mfeleng are also entangled in two other alleged fraud cases against the department, which are currently on trial. Sehunoe will be sentenced on Monday, 25 February.

The Compensation Fund is a public entity under the administration of Department of Labour. The Fund provides compensation to workers for injuries and diseases sustained at work.

Issued by: Department of Labour

18 Feb 2013

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