Williams, Rungan deny all knowledge of alleged R96400 insurance scam
Nelson Mandela Bay communications chief Roland Williams has landed in the centre of an insurance scam probe into claims that a BMW he crashed was a staged accident to collect a pay-out of almost R100 000.
The investigation by leading insurance company Santam also involves controversial tow truck operator Raven Rungan, who it is alleged arranged for Williams’s BMW to be smashed up so it looked as though it had been in an accident.
This comes after Williams’s car was taken to Rungan’s V&R Auto towing company in August last year where it is claimed Rungan instructed one of his employees to damage the car to the extent it would be written off, allowing Williams to claim from Santam.
An investigator working for Santam approached former V&R employee Wayne Russouw earlier this year after the insurance company became suspicious about the claim logged last year.
Santam – which paid out an insurance claim of R96 400 to Williams in September – has confirmed it is investigating the reported crash but has declined to elaborate.
When asked for comment, Williams said: “I have no idea what this is about. If V&R employees are having issues, they must please leave me out of it.”
However, an official statement by Russouw, which he says he made to Santam, has explained in detail how he was called into a meeting with Rungan and Williams and instructed to damage Williams’s black 2005 BMW 3 Series and make it look like the car was in an accident.
“It was explained to me that the vehicle had an engine problem which was too extensive to repair. Mr Rungan then asked me to ‘make a move’ with this vehicle and to damage it as if it had been involved in an accident to the extent that it would be written off by the insurance company,” Russouw said in his statement. Russouw then acted under the instruction of Rungan, who allegedly promised him R2 000 upon completing the task.
His statement further explains how he went about damaging the vehicle.
“A rollback vehicle was available in the yard and I lowered its flatbed. I then hooked and pulled the BMW onto the flatbed so that it stood at an angle, with its right wheels on the flatbed and its left wheels on the ground.
“I then proceeded to push the BMW from its right side with the result that it fell over onto its left side. The vehicle was then turned onto its roof, then onto its right hand side and onto its wheels again.
“I climbed onto the roof of the BMW and jumped up and down on it to further damage the bodywork.
“I used a brick to hit out the sunroof panel and a stone to hit out the left rear window glass. I used a screwdriver to puncture the right hand side tyres.”
Another statement from a former V&R employee, who wished to remain anonymous, corroborated Russouw’s version of events. He said he saw when Williams’s car was brought to the V&R premises undamaged, and understood the car had some mechanical problems.
“From what I had then seen, the bodywork of this vehicle was then not in need of repair. Later Wayne Russouw informed me that he had been instructed by the owner of V&R, Raven Rungan, to damage this vehicle.
“A day or two thereafter I again saw this vehicle, then still in the yard. At that time its bodywork had been extensively damaged,” he said.
According to Russouw, he contacted Rungan the next day to inform him the job was done. According to Russouw, that same day Williams arrived and inspected the vehicle, and later, during another meeting between the three, it was decided that Williams would report an accident to the police, telling them he was driving along the Addo Road, near Motherwell, at night when he swerved to avoid hitting cattle on the road, resulting in him leaving the road and rolling the car.
An official accident report to that effect was made at the Kabega Park police station on August 22, stating the accident happened on August 18.
According to Russouw, Williams paid Rungan R24 000 for storage and release fees.
Williams’s insurance claim was paid out on September 5.
Russouw left V&R in December last year after the company experienced some financial difficulty and Rungan did not pay him his wages. Russouw also never received the R2 000 allegedly promised for damaging the car.
Sanlam approached Russouw in February this year to assist in their investigation.
Rungan’s legal representative, Kuban Chetty, said his client had denied all Russouw’s allegations, saying he was never involved in any of the events described in his former employee’s statement.
“Russouw was fired from V&R last year for stealing, and there were several incidents where items went missing from clients’ cars. Russouw has also contacted Rungan several times in attempts to get his job back,” Chetty said.
Russouw denied these allegations. He appeared in court on July 8 on assault charges involving a driver from another towing company, and during that appearance no previous convictions or pending cases were confirmed.
Santam spokesman and head of corporate affairs Donald Kau confirmed that Santam was investigating the incident and fraud allegations against Rungan’s company.
“I can confirm that we are investigating allegations. Unfortunately I cannot divulge the detail of the particular claim that you mention,” Kau said.
He said this was only one case among several allegations Santam was investigating against V&R, adding that false claims were a widespread problem in South Africa.
“The South African Insurance Association estimates that about 10% of claims contain an element of fraud and working on the claim costs, this equates to about R3-billion. Prevalent is the changing of incident details to get cover and pay-outs, as well as false invoices, inflating repair costs, fitment of inferior parts, false claims, fronting and corruption.”
He said Santam had fraud detection systems in place and made use of specialist investigations to look at more complex claims they received.
“All cases of insurance crime and fraud are reported to the police and Santam will work with the police, banks and other stakeholders to ensure speedy finalisation of cases from investigation to prosecution stage.”