17 September 2009

Selling tuberculosis-infected sputum

Tuberculosis sufferers in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, were found to be selling samples of their sputum to healthy people to pass off as their own in a scam to gain medical grants.

An investigation by the West Cape News identified people with TB charging R50-100 (£4.10-£8.20) for saliva samples contained in bottles stolen from health clinics.

The paper said that buyers of the samples were then able to get a card from a clinic indicating they have TB and use this to fraudulently obtain a temporary disability grant of R1,010 per month from the department of social development.

A 54-year-old man told a reporter that he makes an average of R500 per month from selling his saliva to people seeking to trick their way on to the benefits system. But he said business was "not good" because so many people were infected with TB in the township that he had a lot of competition.

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