Police launch investigations into Otjozondjupa health fraud

OTJIWARONGO; The Otjozondjupa police’s serious crime unit on Wednesday launched investigations into alleged fraud at the Otjozondjupa Regional Health Directorate.

Otjozondjupa Regional Police Commander, Commissioner Joseph Anghuwo told Nampa in an interview on Wednesday that a case of fraud was opened at the Otjiwarongo Police Station on Tuesday by the office of Otjozondjupa regional health director.

“We started with the investigations today so that we can first establish the number of people involved, and secondly to know the exact steps to take against the suspects,” said Anghuwo.

He said the police’s investigations will also reveal the method which the alleged suspects had applied to defraud the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ Otjozondjupa Regional Health Directorate of over N.dollars 8,2 million.

According to a source at the health directorate who spoke on condition of anonymity, close to five suspects have been linked to the case.

It is alleged that some long serving staff-members of the directorate, including two accountants had established a syndicate where false travelling claims were processed and money paid to their accomplices.

Senior officials at the Otjiwarongo State Hospital are said to be involved, and they are said to have each received N.dollars 50 000 in a single subsistence and travelling claim payment for trips they never undertook.

On her part, Otjozondjupa Regional Health Director Maria Kavezembi on Wednesday said the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Andrew Ndishishi instructed her last Friday to open a case of fraud with the police.

She then referred all this news agency’s questions to the police here who are investigating the case.

The syndicate is suspected to have operate between June 2006 and January 2013.

Ndishishi said the two accountants allegedly defrauded the ministry of millions of dollars.

Internal audit findings at the Otjozondjupa regional health office at Otjiwarongo in November 2013 led to charges being laid against the accountants, who are aged 40 and 53.

According to the source, they were in February this year relocated from their offices at the Otjozondjupa Health regional office to the Otjiwarongo District Hospital, where they are temporarily operating from.

The relocation was meant to allow for investigations into the fraud suspicions, which were carried out from November 2013 to January this year.