The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has vowed to leave no stone unturned to fight fraud with regard to social grants.
SASSA said it has pursued an active fraud prevention strategy and has always exercised a zero tolerance to anyone who commits or is complicit in fraud in the social grant environment.
This after reports emerged of more than 1 500 City of Johannesburg employees who were recipients of COVID-19 social grants.
“It is precisely because of the implementation of this strategy that the City of Johannesburg employees were identified. In addition, SASSA and the City of Johannesburg have been co-operating on this matter since July 2020,” said SASSA CEO, Totsie Memela.
In addition, the agency said its strategy led to the probe that unveiled that 4 726 social grant beneficiaries withdrew their income support outside the borders of South Africa during the lockdown period.
“The grants have since been suspended in September, as the legislation requires any grant beneficiary to be a resident in South Africa,” the SASSA statement read on Friday.
“The fact that cross border travel was not permitted indicates that in all likelihood, these social grant beneficiaries are residents in our neighbouring countries,” SASSA said.
The agency said it requires the applicant for any social grant to declare their income on the application. In addition, beneficiaries of a social grant carry the responsibility to report any change in their financial circumstances to SASSA immediately there is a change.
Memela further added that through the implementation of the special relief grant of R350 per month, SASSA has been able to access databases from other government departments to validate the income of applicants for the grant.
“The relationships developed during this pandemic will greatly assist SASSA in strengthening its validation processes, even for the long term social grants in the future. This will enable checks to be done to ensure that the financial information provided is complete and that grants are indeed provided to those who qualify for the grants,” she reiterated.
Furthermore, every citizen in this country has a responsibility to report wrongdoing and this extends to the reporting of grants being received by citizens who do not qualify for them.
“Unfortunately, it appears that it is acceptable for citizens to take from government with impunity as it is government money and there is plenty more where that comes from rather than to understand that the money being used is taxpayers’ money.
“Everyone who receives what they are not entitled to is in fact taking away from someone who depends on that money.”
SASSA said it will continue to call on citizens to report the misuse and incorrect payment of social grants and promised to continue preventing fraud.