|Article Date: 02 May 2012
Police are expected to arrest an alleged legal practitioner this morning following an extensive police investigation into alleged fraud and bribery involving members of the public who are users of the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
CCMA Director Nerine Kahn (Kahn) said that this latest scam was uncovered after loyal members of staff in the Western Cape alerted Convening Senior Commissioner (CSC) Nazeema Teladia (Teladia) that they were receiving calls offering them cash and other bribes to refer users and to fax copies of completed referral forms the CCMA receives from parties to them. Kahn said these touts/fraudsters would then contact these unsuspecting parties to offer them assistance with their cases. Kahn instructed Teladia to contact the police to conduct an investigation as users/members of the public were being misled at a time when they were most vulnerable. Kahn said that the CCMA would not tolerate this abuse of the poor or vulnerable members of the public and would do everything within its power to protect the public from unscrupulous practices.
Kahn says the CCMA’s Cape Town office receives around 2800 referrals a month and if just 10% of these referral were being diverted to these operators they could fleece the unsuspecting public of almost R280 000.00 per month in that province alone. She added that nationally the CCMA processes about 15 000 referrals a month and if the problem is as widespread as is suspected, this could mean that the public could be paying out about R1.5m a month in unnecessary expenditure to these fraudsters.
Kahn added that the CCMA had become aware that the problem was widespread and occurring on a national level as she had received similar information from all the other provinces where the CCMA had offices. She said that similar problems had occurred and been dealt with in the past, citing a case where “legal practitioners” opened offices in the same buildings as the CCMA and posed as CCMA officials, but charged for their services. Kahn said there were even some NGO’s who misrepresented themselves as being accredited CCMA officials and charged members of the public unnecessary fees for simply filling in referral forms – which was a free service offered by the CCMA and the Department of Labour. She further added that these people would often accost people at train, bus, and taxi terminals on their way to the CCMA and hand out CCMA referral forms in attempts to pass themselves off as CCMA officials.
Meanwhile Teladia said that these people were guilty of misleading the public/users into paying for services that are offered for free. She says that the advice given to unsuspecting members of the public is often also incorrect. Teladia further added that these unsuspecting members of the public are often conned into signing agreements with these operators where they have to pay up to 50% of any compensation they receive in settlements or awards as “fees”. She says that there have been instances where applicants have approached her office in Cape Town, too scared to leave the CCMA offices because of touts waiting outside. Kahn added that these “operators” have on numerous occasions threatened to sue the CCMA as they were of the view that that their “right to trade freely” was being impinged upon.
For any further information/comment please contact:
CCMA Director Nerine Kahn (National)
011 377 6650 /011 377 6694
Convening Senior Commissioner Nazeema Teladia (Western Cape)
021 469 0111
SAPS – Captain Marks
079 522 9850