Govt preventing grant fraud: News24: SouthAfrica: Politics

Credit Source: Govt preventing grant fraud: News24: SouthAfrica: Politics.

Pretoria – The government has in the past year saved R213m by preventing fraudulent social grant payouts.

The investigation by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) into fraud, corruption and maladministration that plagued the social grant system has – since it started in 2005 – prevented R690m from being paid out to fraudulent claimants, its head Willie Hofmeyr said on Monday.

“We are hopeful that we are halfway there,” Hofmeyr said. A total of 288 682 people who were illegally receiving grants was removed from the system.

Some had taken themselves off the system since the investigation started.

Amongst those are 21 587 public service people who have received grants illegally.

All of these people are being considered for possible disciplinary action and the SIU has already handed 3 657 disciplinary files over to several government departments to take the matter further

False beneficiaries

“We think we now have removed almost all the public servants who were receiving grants, so we are shifting our focus from public servants to private individuals,” Hofmeyr said.

The SIU has also discovered several organised crime groups targeting the social grants payout system.

Some recruit people from off the street, issuing them with false documentation to claim grants and then pocketing some of the payouts.

Others have simply created false beneficiaries through hacking into the government system.

One group had up to 700 people fraudulently claiming social payouts.

In the meantime the SIU has taken 5 656 cases to court, scoring an 80% conviction rate.

It also continues to have those who received grants fraudulently pay the money back.

Of the 11 543 acknowledgements of debts to the value of R63m that have been signed, just over R12m has been collected.

“We are increasing the pace of collection with R1.1m collected in September alone,” Hofmeyr said.

‘Dramatic turn around’

Social development Minister Zola Skweyiya, speaking together with Hofmeyr at a press conference in Pretoria said the SA Social Security Agency had also improved its system to prevent further fraud.

Some of the improved methods include a more in depth evaluation of grant applicants, installation of a biometric system identifying employees working with the grants, the visitation of homes of those receiving foster grants to identify children receiving grants.

“There has been a dramatic turn around in the social grant system from one riddled with irregularities and fraud to a system that South Africans can be more proud of,” Skweyiya said.

– SAPA

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