15-Year Prison Sentence Handed Down To UIF TERS Fraudster

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The Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme was intended to assist employees who lost income due the national lockdowns. However, some individuals wrongly benefitted from these funds and will now face the consequences. 


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Dennis Patrick Lerato Modika has been handed a 15-year prison sentence for defrauding the Unemployment Insurance Fund and illicitly profiting from the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS). The sentencing took place at the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court following Modika's conviction on eight counts.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) revealed that Modika submitted a total of 1,358 fraudulent employee claims to the Department of Labour over a two-year span. They submitted these claims with the aim of benefiting from the relief fund.

The NPA says Modika and his company did not have the declared employees and consequently were not entitled to TERS relief funds. Despite this, the department disbursed an amount exceeding R5 million to an account held by Modika.

Modika was arrested in Daveyton during a sting operation conducted by members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) on 10 July 2023. 

The accused and his company did not have the declared employees in their employ and were therefore not entitled to apply for the relief fund. The department paid an amount of over R5 million in total to a bank account which belonged to the accused.

TERS was established by the government to aid qualifying businesses affected by the national lockdown amid the pandemic. The relief scheme required employers to submit applications on behalf of employees. If their TERS applications were approved, employers were expected to disburse a limited portion of salaries to the eligible employees.

Senior State Advocate Frans Mhlongo emphasised that the court should impose a penalty reflecting not only the depletion of the UIF funds but also the hardship and suffering their actions imposed on the rightful recipients. 

Mhlongo argued that Modika's actions demonstrated a prioritisation of personal indulgence over the well-being of fellow citizens. 

He further argued that the accused was only concerned with gratifying the fleeting pleasures of life than with the welfare of his compatriots

The NPA expressed satisfaction with the imposed sentence, commending Advocate Mhlongo and Investigating Officer Warrant Officer Siralile for ensuring that the abuse of the vital relief fund did not escape legal consequences.

The NPA welcomes the sentence and applauds Adv. Mhlongo and the Investigating Officer, Warrant Officer Siralile, for ensuring that the abuse of the much-needed relief fund did not go unpunished

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UIF processing claims

Benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) provide critical relief for individuals who have lost their jobs or part of their income due to circumstances beyond their control. Concerns have been raised about the backlog of UIF claims submitted by people in need of relief. 

 

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