Sassa Plans To Deal With Fraud
At least 18 million people receive permanent social grants monthly. However, the money meant for these vulnerable individuals often catches the attention of fraudulent individuals wanting to illegally get a piece of the pie.
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has the mandate of assisting the most vulnerable members of the country’s society. Despite this mandate, the agency has had to deal with nearly 500 cases of alleged corruption and fraud over the past decade.
In response to a question in parliament, the minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu revealed that 489 cases were referred to law enforcement agencies for criminal investigation and possible products.
These cases were referred to the authorities during between the 2012/2013 and 2021/2022 financial years. The 2017/2018 financial year saw the highest number of reported cases. The accused included 38 grant beneficiaries, 195 officials, 53 money lenders, seven private individuals and a Cash Paymaster Service (CPS) worker.
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The minister revealed that 31 of 489 cases referred to the authorities were successfully prosecuted.
Zulu was also questioned about what is being done to prevent these types of issues. This includes which steps are being taken by the department to train officials, including Sassa staff
They have to answer this in relation to the train officials around the identification and prevention of scams and fraudulent activities by individuals trying to obtain social grant payments. They were also quizzed about how regularly this training takes place.
Minister Zulu’s response revealed that Sassa approved a fraud prevention strategy that is aligned to the National Anti-Corruption Strategy. They added that awareness campaigns take place regularly, which emphasises on fraud prevention.
“Fraud awareness campaigns are conducted on a quarterly basis as per the operational plan. The emphasis of the strategy is on fraud prevention through fraud awareness capabilities” said Zulu.
The cost of not implementing strong prevention strategies could cost the country millions of rands. It is estimated that R23,1 million was potentially stolen by people who unduly benefited from receiving social grant payments during the 2021/2022 financial year.
The potential cost over the last 10 years is estimated to be at R536,6 million. Minister Zulu concluded that some of the cases referred to are not yet finalised, which prevents them from coming to a full determination of the actual loss incurred.