A man who disguised himself as an employee of the United Nations was arrested by the Hawks Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation on Saturday 2 May in Rustenburg.
According to a statement released by the South African Police Service (Saps) on Tuesday 5 May, the man alleged that he was responsible for a Youth Movement Programme that focuses on giving South Africa’s youth community opportunities abroad.
UNITED NATIONS ‘EMPLOYEE’ CHARGED WITH FRAUD
Mort West McKenzie, 26, appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud and contravening the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002).
The investigation into McKenzie started in March this year when it was discovered that he held several meetings with people from February lobbying support for whoever wanted to join the programme as a volunteer to pay an amount of R1 500.
“He further went to convince the complaints that he was also distributing COVID-19 surgical masks to organisations and institutions and left them with six boxes to distribute to their communities,” said Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi.
The complainants introduced other people to McKenzie and paid the R1500 membership fee as demanded. Later suspecting that something was amiss, the complainants requested his UN number for verification which never materialised.
“As if that wasn’t bad enough, he similarly disguised himself and deceived Rustenburg Municipality officials that he was a United Nations official distributing Personal Protective Equipment. He attempted to convince them to pay a sizable amount for his services whilst he would cover a portion of the fees,” said Mulaudzi.
“McKenzie also managed to convince a Sandton businessman to procure surgical masks to the tune of R2 million for distribution to underprivileged communities. The Gauteng Hawks are dealing with the case and will be appearing in the Randburg court soon,” he added.
IN SOUTH AFRICA ILLEGALLY
The Hawks investigation discovered that McKenzie was a Tanzanian national and was not an employee of the United Nations. It was also confirmed that the suspect is not supposed to be in South Africa as he was not issued with a passport by his country.
“Meanwhile, McKenzie has been remanded in custody by the Pretoria Magistrate Court pending his next appearance on 11 May 2020. He is expected to appear again in the Rustenburg Magistrates court facing the same charges on Tuesday,” he said.
The National Head of the DPCI, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya has welcomed the arrest.
“The Hawks will deal with any corrupt individual, entities, companies and organisations who intend on illegally helping themselves on the resources intended to fight COVID-19 pandemic. I have directed the team to also establish as to whether he is a qualified doctor,” said Lieutenant General Lebeya.