Mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cial up for fraud over ‘hi­jack­ing’

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - KHAYA KOKO @khayakoko88

‘He asked two col­leagues to stage crime and burn his car’

A “FOOL­ISH” and brazen fraud of al­most R400 000 – al­legedly com­mit­ted by an Ekurhu­leni Metro of­fi­cial who had his car burnt to claim in­sur­ance money – has been foiled.

Ash­ley Naicker, a se­nior clerk in Ekurhu­leni’s Springs of­fice, al­legedly faked be­ing hi­jacked in Oc­to­ber and had his Volvo V40 T3 burnt to claim money from Hol­lard In­sur­ance, ac­cord­ing to the po­lice.

He was ar­rested in his of­fice on Fri­day af­ter po­lice thwarted his elab­o­rate plot.

“This guy got two of his col­leagues he is work­ing with at the Ekurhu­leni Metro to hi­jack him and take the ve­hi­cle to the veld be­tween Brak­pan and Tsakane – next to Hei­del­berg Road – where they burnt the car,” said po­lice spokesper­son Cap­tain Jo­hannes Ram­phora.

“The value of the car was about R400 000. He couldn’t cope with his monthly in­stal­ments, which is why he tried to do th­ese things so that the in­sur­ance – which is Hol­lard – could set­tle the car, so that he could buy another car.”

Ram­phora said Naicker was paid a por­tion of the R400 000 claim, of which he also re­ceived about R18 000 “as change”. His ac­counts have been frozen and po­lice will seek to re­cover the money.

Ram­phora said po­lice worked with their crime in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers and the in­sur­ance com­pany to in­ves­ti­gate the al­leged fake hi­jack­ing as there was “some­thing fishy” with how the sup­posed hi­jack­ing took place.

“For one, noth­ing other than the car was taken from Mr Naicker, not even his cell­phone or wal­let – no valu­ables what­so­ever. This is what made the po­lice sus­pi­cious, and they in­volved the Crime In­tel­li­gence Unit in the mat­ter,” he said.

Ram­phora did not want to elab­o­rate on the de­tails of how the crime in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers tracked down Naicker and his two col­leagues, say­ing only that in­for­mants were ap­proached to as­sists the po­lice.

“We tracked down Naicker’s two col­leagues, who told us ev­ery­thing that Naicker planned. They sang beau­ti­fully, like an­gels,” Ram­phora joked.

“The col­leagues have turned State wit­nesses and were very co-op­er­a­tive dur­ing this in­ves­ti­ga­tion. We have not charged them. Only the court can de­cide what to do with them,” he added.

Naicker ap­peared in the Springs Mag­is­trate’s Court on Mon­day on charges of fraud and per­jury, where he was granted R3 000 bail. His next ap­pear­ance will be on July 18.

Ekurhu­leni spokesper­son Themba Gadebe said the clerk would not be sus­pended im­me­di­ately as the city wanted to mon­i­tor the court pro­ceed­ings first be­fore tak­ing a de­ci­sion on how to pro­ceed with Naicker.

“We don’t want to pre-empt any­thing yet as the mat­ter is still be­fore the courts and the em­ployee has not been found guilty. We note th­ese are se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions that (Naicker) is fac­ing, but I can’t com­ment fur­ther un­til his court case reaches its con­clu­sion,” Gadebe added.

Speak­ing on be­half of Hol­lard In­sur­ance, War­wick Bloom said: “We are un­able to com­ment on the spe­cific mat­ter as it is sub ju­dice.

“But in terms of more gen­eral statis­tics (of in­sur­ance fraud com­mit­ted against Hol­lard), roughly 5% of the per­sonal claims in­ves­ti­gated last year were found to be fraud­u­lent.”

Ram­phora pointed out that this was a “fool­ish” crime to com­mit be­cause the Na­tional Con­sumer Act em­pow­ered strug­gling debtors to ap­proach the bank and make pay­ment ar­range­ments.

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