Province targets 60 officials and workers over social grant theft

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

"The buck stops here."

This was the message KwaZulu-Natal MEC for social welfare and population development, Meshack Hadebe, sent to corrupt officials.

Speaking at Mpumalanga township, outside Durban, yesterday, Hadebe warned corrupt officials that their time was over and they would be arrested.

"There are 60 employees who will be arrested soon. We have collected enough evidence against them. It is only a matter of tying up the loose ends," Hadebe said.

He said the arrests would follow those of 17 officials and employees arrested in Ulundi, where one of them was reported to have been cashing more than R30000 a month through ghost children.

After the arrests the department discovered that about R6 million had been lost through corrupt officials, who included social workers, Home Affairs employees, doctors and police officers.

He said these people were claiming thousands of rands for ghost children.

Hadebe said he would meet with the national minister, Zola Skweyiya, to discuss ways to fight the corruption.

"I will explain to him that I need more manpower to fight this corruption. We can't allow a situation where employed people are stealing our grandfathers' and grandmothers' money, while they are paid huge salaries every month," he said.

Hadebe lashed out at Cash Paymaster Services, the company contracted to safeguard grants, saying they have failed to perform their duties.

"I visited a paypoint in Phoenix that had been robbed of R1 million last month. When we arrived there we found people eating chocolate as if nothing had happened. What's that?"

He announced that he was dissolving all the pension committees in Mpumalanga after pensioners complained that they were forced to bribe welfare workers in order to get their money.

He said local councillors and community development workers would be helping pensioners until the committees were legally elected.