Four arrested for Covid-19 TERS fraud in EC and Free State

Four suspects have been released on bail for alleged involvement in the Temporary Employer or Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) fraud in the Eastern Cape and Free State.

This comes after they appeared in different courts following their arrests in April.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) confirmed the matter on Tuesday. It said a group of people aged between 38 and 49 established ghost workers to claim payments from the Department of Labour. The suspects are Nomvuzo Melody Kupiso, Tlotliso Molaba, Lehlohonolo Class Motaung, and Lelokonyana Isak Letseng.

“The four accused unduly claimed TERS funding from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), an agency of the Department of Labour. TERS … was set up as part of an intervention to rescue industries that were negatively affected by Covid-19,” said the SIU.

Illegally registered for TERS payments

The unit uncovered that Kupiso, owner of a business called Khayathi, allegedly illegally registered for TERS payments. She did so on behalf of individuals who were no longer employed at Khayathi. This was done through fraud and with the intent to defraud the UIF.

“­Khayathi and Ms Kupiso unlawfully and falsely made or created the proof of payments. These appeared to have been signed by the “employees” on receipt of the TERS benefit at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. [Implicated] individuals have not been employed at Khayathi since 2015.
“The UIF released the total payment in the amount of R216,905.95 to Khayathi.”
Kupiso was arrested and appeared at the King Wiliams Town magistrate’s court in the Eastern Cape. She was charged with fraud, forgery, and uttering before being released on R1,500 bail.

Meanwhile, the trio from the Free State registered for the Covid-19 TERS online using two of their companies. These are Afrikhan Source and Izuz Gibbor, over two separate dates.

One of the accused in the Free State UIF Covid-19 fraud case who was released on bail.
“Between March and October 2020, Afrikhan Source applied for Covid-19 TERS on behalf of individuals allegedly affected by Covid-19. In July 2020 and October 2021, Izuz Gibbor made applications for Covid-19 TERS on behalf of certain individuals who claimed to be affected by the pandemic.
Company was paid R1,3m in claims for ghost workers
“The UIF made nine payments amounting to approximately R1,396,053,40 to the Afrikhan Source’s account. This was between September 2020 and December 2020. Izuz Gibbor received nine payments from UIF, amounting to an estimated R101,555.92.”
Another of the trio accused in the Free State Covid-19 UIF fraud case.
In their investigation, the SIU discovered that the applicants never worked for either of the two companies. They were released on R10,000 bail, respectively. The trio is expected to be back in court on June 11, 2024.

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