Grant scam scrutinised

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

A squad of high-level investigators is soon to clamp down on government workers and members of the public involved in a social grant scam amounting to nearly R20 million in KwaZulu-Natal.

Yesterday, social development MEC Meshack Radebe told Sowetan that the officers were acting on a tip-off from the public.

The syndicate involves public service employees in the departments of health, home affairs and social welfare, including the South African Security Agency, which administers the payments of social grants.

Also involved are doctors and other members of the public.

"The scam involves people receiving social grants by claiming to be HIV positive, with some not having undergone an HIV test.

"Applicants are known to produce fraudulent medical documents reflecting someone else's CD4 count," Radebe said.

HIV-positive patients with a CD4 count of less than 200 are entitled to receive a government social grant of R870 a month.

Others with a CD4 count of more than 200 also qualify, provided that the grant is recommended by a medical doctor.

The grant is to help them buy groceries during the time they are too sick to work. Once the CD4 count picks up again, and they are able to work, the grant is suspended.

"We are talking about millions of rands being lost. Police are in possession of the names and residential areas of the fraudsters.

"But we can't say where exactly the majority of these fraudsters come from as it would jeopardise police investigations," he said.