MASERU — The South African High Commission to Lesotho has unearthed a syndicate that was giving fake medical aid cover to Basotho applying for permits to study in South Africa. It is understood that the syndicate has been operating for several years. Basotho who want to study in South Africa are required to get medical cover before they get study permits.
This is because they are not allowed to get services from South Africa’s government hospitals.
The medical cover costs between M2 600 and M3 600. Several insurance companies in Lesotho have entered partnerships with South African companies to sell medical cover to Basotho students. A Lesotho company issues a student with a letter confirming that they are covered. The letter is then attached to the student’s application for a permit. Most prospective students however found this requirement expensive.
So to circumvent it they would get fake confirmation from the syndicate. A source close to the investigation said it was discovered that the fake letters were being generated by a syndicate that was using letterheads stolen from three insurance companies in Lesotho. The Sunday Express has withheld the names of the three insurance companies because they have not been given a chance to respond to the allegations. The scam was discovered two weeks ago, the source said. The syndicate was charging the students between M800 and M1 200 for the fake letters.
The High Commission is now working with the insurance companies and the police to investigate the full extent of the scam.
Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha confirmed that there has been a report on the matter and investigations have already started. “All we can say at the moment is that we have received the report and we are investigating the matter,” Masupha said. He however refused to give details on how widespread the scam was and how many people are under investigation.
“It is important that such details be kept out of public domain because that might jeopardise investigations,” he said.
The source said the matter was referred to an Interpol official based at the High Commission two weeks ago after the commission noticed that there was something wrong with the letters. He said when the Interpol officials started following up with the companies that were said to have sold the medical aid cover and issued confirmation letters he discovered that they were fraudulent.
“The companies were livid and shocked,” the source said. The syndicate, he said, had forged a signature of one senior official from one local insurance giant. “That official had already told the commission that he was no longer dealing with students going to the Free State but his signature was on the confirmation letters of students going to study in that province,” the source said.