Ex-trustees of Boni­tas want their jobs back

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FINANCE - LAURA DU PREEZ

The for­mer trustees of Boni­tas Med­i­cal Fund are try­ing to get them­selves re­in­stated, and the scheme’s act­ing prin­ci­pal of­fi­cer is try­ing to block the re­port of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the scheme’s mar­ket­ing com­pany.

The Coun­cil for Med­i­cal Schemes, mean­while, may re­sume an ap­pli­ca­tion for the scheme’s cu­ra­tor­ship, the Reg­is­trar of Med­i­cal Schemes, Dr Mon­wabisi Gantsho, says.

In Jan­uary, the coun­cil ap­plied to the South Gaut­eng High Court to put Boni­tas un­der cu­ra­tor­ship be­cause it was in­volved in an in­com­plete prop­erty devel­op­ment in KwaZu­luNatal and other in­vest­ments that put about R80 mil­lion of mem­bers’ money at risk.

The ap­pli­ca­tion was de­layed by the in­ter­ven­tion of Boni­tas’s ad­min­is­tra­tor, Med­scheme. The coun­cil then took le­gal ac­tion to re­move the board of trustees.

When the board tried to op­pose this ac­tion, the court found it did not have a quorum and re­moved it. The court put Ger­hard van Em­me­nis, the scheme’s act­ing prin­ci­pal of­fi­cer, and Joseph Maluleke, a com­pli­ance of­fi­cer, in charge of the scheme.

But, in a lawyer’s let­ter sent last week to Van Em­me­nis and Maluleke, the trustees asked for their pow­ers to be re­turned to them, say­ing they now have a quorum. The let­ter says the num­ber of trustees re­quired for a quorum was re­duced in an amend­ment to Boni­tas’s rules ap­proved by Gantsho in Oc­to­ber.

The trustees’ ac­tion may, how­ever, be thwarted by an ap­peal against the amend­ment brought by a mem­ber of the scheme.

Gantsho says the ap­peal has the ef­fect of sus­pend­ing the rule change un­til the mat­ter is heard.

But Bon­gani Mpun­gose, who was the chair­man of the board, says the trustees will pur­sue what­ever means pos­si­ble to get back in con­trol of the scheme and will ques­tion the sus­pen­sion of the rule change.

Mpun­gose says a dis­grun­tled for­mer em­ployee, Ray­mond Mkhize, is tar­nish­ing the trustees’ names.

Ac­cord­ing to Per­sonal Fi­nance’s sis­ter news­pa­per the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent, Mkhize was the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Boni­tas’s mar­ket­ing com­pany be­fore he was dis­missed on charges of mis­con­duct. The mar­ket­ing com­pany is a wholly owned sub­sidiary of Boni­tas.

The Coun­cil for Med­i­cal Schemes in­ves­ti­gated the mar­ket­ing com­pany on the ba­sis of Mkhize’s al­le­ga­tions.

But late last week, the mar­ket­ing com­pany, led by Van Em­me­nis, launched an ur­gent high court ap­pli­ca­tion to block the con­tents of the in­spec­tion re­port, ar­gu­ing that the coun­cil had no right to in­spect the com­pany.

The mat­ter was post­poned un­til Fe­bru­ary next year, and in the in­terim, Gantsho says, the coun­cil may not use the re­port. How­ever, he says, this does not pre­vent the coun­cil from act­ing in the best in­ter­ests of mem­bers based on the al­le­ga­tions it has been given.

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