SASSA officials suspended for corruption

Pretoria – A total of 241 South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) officials have been suspended, dismissed or convicted for fraud related matters, from 1 April 2012 to date.

Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, released these figures on Monday during the Annual SASSA Anti-Corruption Conference 2013, held in Pretoria.

The conference, which was attended by more than 600 delegates from SASSAs provincial offices in the country, was held under the theme, “Closing the fraud and corruption gap in the social grants administration process”.

The conference aimed to look at the problem of fraud and educate the officials present on how to prevent and detect fraud.

During the 2013 financial year alone, a total of 1 845 cases have been captured on the Fraud Case Management System of SASSA.

The minister said although investigations of this nature may sometimes drag, she was pleased that they have moved with speed to finalise 841 of these cases.

“The monetary value of the finalised cases is R4 525 015, of which R203 050 has been recovered,” she said.

She said currently, 29 individual investigation projects were being conducted by the Fraud Management and Compliance Departments of SASSA.

As at 30 September 2013, the current project status indicated that a total of 6 792 grants and 216 SASSA employees are involved. “The total monetary value of these projects is R93 423 260,” the minister said.

Dlamini appealed to officials not to allow unscrupulous syndicates to use them.

She stressed the importance for government officials to understand their communities, warning that if they don’t, they would never understand why government pays out grants.

“It is sad and disturbing that communities through the committees that serve in SASSA pay pension points are also involved in the corruption. We would expect them to work with the government and monitor the work that we are doing but they are part of the chain of corruption.

“We appeal to our officials, especially women, not to allow themselves to be recruited by fraud syndicates. Some of you are bread-winners and it therefore, brings no joy to us when families are left destitute when the provider in the family is convicted for fraud,” Dlamini warned.

The minister said money lending and the effects it has on undermining SASSA’s mandate cannot be left unchallenged.

“Our efforts to provide social security cannot look at fraud alone, but must also tackle the challenge posed by money lenders or loan sharks.

She said this practice by unscrupulous business people to lend money to poor people at ridiculously high interest rates works against the developmental objectives of government and perpetuates poverty.

“There must be another understanding on why we have to pay people…it’s because we are fighting poverty. If there are loan sharks lending a gogo R1000 and expect a profit of R900, which is mostly 30% interest, it means we won’t be able to fight poverty.”

She said they were looking at money lending practices in Gauteng together with law enforcement agencies to see how they can be curbed.

“We are also engaging relevant stakeholders nationally to find ways of protecting our people from loan sharks,” she said.

Other interventions that have been put in place to support the anti-corruption strategy include, linking risk management to anti-corruption initiatives.

“We have an effective audit committee functioning within SASSA to ensure that we implement our risk management strategies and fraud prevention plan,” the minister said.

She said they have also recently appointed a Ministerial Advisory Committee on the future payment of social grants. Amongst other things, the committee is tasked with exploring the market for a suitable payment model that will enable SASSA to pay grants in-house from 2017 as directed by the SASSA Act (Act No.9 of 2004).

“We are also looking at the possibility of paying by wards so that our grandparents don’t walk long distances. The task of paying internally is also going to involve government stakeholders so that all the money would return to government. Our people should not have to pay us in order to access services.” – Gabi Khumalo, SAnews.gov.za

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My ethos is espoused in the words of Nelson Mandela: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society. If need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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