Hundreds of officials have been suspended, while many others were dismissed following a string of social grants fraud and corruption investigations since 2010, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said on Sunday.
The Department also finalised 10 complex investigations involving major social grants identity theft fraud investigations, amongst others, over the past year as the fraud and corruption investigation net widened against corrupt officials and ghost beneficiaries.
Minister Dlamini was briefing the media on the progress made in probing fraud and corruption within the department
“We are winning the fight against fraud and corruption and we will continue to learn and improve our systems and we will continue to learn and improve our systems in order that we are not only reactive, but also a step ahead of criminals who want to feed the poor,” she said.
“We urge all South Africans not to keep quiet when they observe suspicious behaviour and to report it to us in order that it can be looked into.”
The media briefing also took place on the eve of the South African Social Security Agency’s (SASSA) second national anti-corruption conference that will take place in Pretoria for two days.
Since the first Annual Anti-Corruption Conference in November 2013, a total of 160 arrests were made comprising of SASSA officials, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) officials, beneficiaries and illegal money lenders.
The investigations spread across reported cases related to procurement and tender processes, social grants and identity theft.
Since 2010, 261 officials have been suspended, 53 dismissed and five convictions have been secured and 12 officials resigned before disciplinary hearings, the Minister said.
She also said that as at January 2015, about 2 000 investigations of the nearly 8 000 fraud and corruption cases that were lodged since the 201213 financial year had been closed, meaning they allegations did not lead to forensic evidence being found. In the same period, about 5 000 cases were finalised while 670 cases are still outstanding.
“The monetary value of the finalised investigations is nearly R87.4 million and an amount of R1.2 million has been recovered by the respective regions.”
The Minister also said that as of 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014, more than 3 000 cases were captured on the Fraud Case Management System as being received by the respective regions. About 3 100 cases were finalised with a value of R38.4 million.
Between 1 April 2014 and 31 January 2015, 10 complex investigations with a combined value of over R20 million were finalised.
Minister Dlamini also announced that there has been a drop in the number of cases recorded in 21314 and 201415, and said this was due to the fact that the department’s Fraud Prevention Strategy was having a positive impact.
“For the financial year 201314, a total of 30 fraud cases have been referred to law enforcement agencies involving 84 officials with a combined [monetary value] of just over R15 million.
“Also, for the current financial year of 201415, a total of 11 fraud cases have been referred to law enforcement agencies involving 90 SASSA officials and three CPS officials, with a combined value of nearly R21 million,” she said.
The Minister also said that since January this year, out of the 87 investigations registered, 46 are in progress with a monetary value of R88 million.
She also said that this indicates that nearly 5 000 grants and 86 SASSA employees are involved.
“… All these efforts are geared towards ensuring that the poor and vulnerable in our society indeed access their constitutional entitlements.
“By putting in place all these detection, investigative and prevention measures, we aim to ensure that our system is geared towards closing the linkages associated with the old cash-based payment system and rooting our fraud and corruption,” she said.
Source : SAnews.gov.za