Zimbabwean nurse in £44,000 benefits fraud

LEEDS, United Kingdom – A Zimbabwean nurse plundered the public purse of £44,000 in benefits after working in two Leeds care homes – while claiming she was too sick to walk properly.

Rudo Muridzi, who is now studying for a higher diploma in nursing, arrived in the UK from Zimbabwe in 2002 when she began working at The Hollies care home in Garforth as an agency nurse.

Leeds Crown Court heard she was granted leave to remain in the UK and claimed for income support despite already working.

Muridzi then completed further forms for housing and council tax benefits as well as disability allowance – all while continuing to work.

When the 51-year-old applied for disability allowance in August 2003, Muridzi declared she was HIV positive as well as suffering from cancer.

On the form she listed a stream of ailments including painful legs and needing a stick to walk as well as losing balance and only being able to stumble around the house.

For the prosecution Simon Clegg said: "In August 2003 when she made these declarations she was working 28 hours a week at The Hollies."

She then filled out a disability allowance review form in June 2004 where she said she had skin cancer and stated she spent almost all her time in bed.

But just shortly after this Murdizi, of Holmsley Walk, Woodlesford, Leeds, got a second job at Asket Croft care home in Seacroft.

On a further disability form in 2005, Murdizi stated she hardly went out alone and vomited when leaving the house – despite having two jobs.

When interviewed about her benefits claims in 2006, she said she didn’t understand the forms and that they were completed by someone else.

Muridzi admitted five charges of making false statements from June 2003 to May 2006, taking a total of £44,113 in benefits.

The court heard she has already repaid a total of £5,000.

Simon Alexander, mitigating, said she is currently studying a higher diploma in nursing at the University of Bradford and has suffered from health problems.

He added: "The claims for housing benefit and income support were filled in at a time when she was receiving hospital treatment for cancer. They were filled in by a social worker at the hospital and the second time by the benefits worker at Leeds City Council. She pleads guilty in that she knows she was working."

Murdizi was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, as well as a supervision requirement for two years.