Earlier this year it was revealed that more than R200 million in relief grants were paid to government employees.
Some of these government employees may have been entitled to grants distributed by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). However, they were not entitled to receive the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant. The SRD grant was introduced in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic to assist unemployed individuals.
Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu has said that criminal cases will be opened against each public servant who irregularly benefited from the SRD grant. She revealed this to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
SASSA spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi revealed that 5 812 individuals benefited from the SRD grant. He says it's a bad thing that relief which was meant for the poor was taken. He says this would have been the case even if it was just one person who irregularly benefited from the grant.
Letsatsi says it is unfortunate that people have found loopholes and attempted to defraud the system. This was the first time SASSA was distributing a grant in this manner and at this scale. He acknowledged that this was mainly due to the agency needing to distribute relief to members of the public as quickly as possible.
He revealed that so far only 242 have had cases opened against them. He says they are ensuring that all the information the SASSA has is correct. The South African Police Services have also advised them to open the criminal cases in areas where the accused reside.
Lesatsi said, “we are definitely going to come for them but we need to make sure that at least we are satisfied that the information is correct and accurate. We proceed with them as the case was opened but, we are indeed going to make sure that all of them, those particular individuals who have been identified, cases are opened against them and we think that the South African police service would do a good job”.
He said SASSA is working with other government agencies including the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and SAPS to ensure that those who wrongly benefited from the grant are thrown behind bars.