SASSA grant fraud: R800 million lost to corruption
The South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) has lost an estimated R800 million to corrupt practices in the entity and of that amount, a mere R1.5 million has been recovered.
SASSA today briefed the Standing Committee on Community Development in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP). It was revealed that between April 2015 and March 2016, a total of 18 807 disputes had been logged with SASSA.
In April 2016 alone, a total of 1 846 disputes were logged with SASSA in the Western Cape. It is clear that beneficiaries cannot rely on the Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (DRM), which are meant to resolve cases of beneficiary exploitation.
It was revealed that beneficiaries received falsified SASSA forms that were used by insurance brokers to fraudulently take out insurance on behalf of beneficiaries. It also emerged from the briefing that 3rd parties are obtaining confidential details of beneficiaries from FICA and not necessarily from SASSA.
It was revealed that the Cash Payment Services (CPS), responsible for disbursing social grants is a subsidiary of Net1, a company that also owns Easy Pay. It is concerning to note that beneficiaries are tricked into opening Easy Pay accounts thus ensuring that CPS pays the monies directly into these accounts that are subsequently fraudulently debited. It also emerged that CPS will continue to profit from these questionable deductions as they are contracted to SASSA until March 2017. SASSA will not renew CPS’s contract as a result of this, but will take over operations themselves from April 1 2017.
It is clear that the DRM that was put in place by SASSA in 2012 to deal with the fraudulent deductions made on beneficiary accounts, has failed.
SASSA informed the committee of new regulations that will be initiated in an effort to with the rampant fraudulent deductions. These include:
• 24 hour, 7 days a week, toll free number, including calls from cell phones – 0800 60 10 11
• No funeral insurance deductions from children’s & temporary grants allowed
• Beneficiaries to submit written consent for deductions
• On site commissioner of Oaths to process affidavits
• Retraining of SASSA staff on implementation of DRM
While we welcome steps taken, it remains to be seen whether SASSA can put a stop corrupt practices. The DA in the Western Cape remains committed to rooting out corruption which robs our most vulnerable of their social safety net. The responsibility rests on SASSA to ensure that the mechanisms that it has in place are reliable and do not grant beneficiaries at risk.