social grant audit

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

The KwaZulu-Natal department of social development will visit an estimated 29000 individual foster care parents to verify if the children they collect grants for are still there.

The exercise is aimed at rooting out fraud and corruption afflicting the foster care grant programme.

The initiative will be undertaken jointly with the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).

Provincial head of Sassa, Dianne Dunkerley, said they do not know whether the children they were paying for are still alive.

The grant is given to care givers who look after vulnerable children who have been placed in legal care by the children's court.

The province pays R640 a child for the estimated 116490 vulnerable children.

Dunkerley said they are concerned that about 58000 court orders issued to foster care parents expired in December last year .

"Sassa issued the court orders accepting the foster care parents as bona fide after recommendations by social workers," she said.

"The order is valid for two years and has to be extended three months before it expires."

Dunkerley said they sent registered letters through the post office to appeal to foster care givers to apply for extensions.

She said they had received responses from about half the care givers who access the money through the banks.

"If a child is still at school, a foster parent can apply for an extension until the pupil reaches the age of 21 years."

Dunkerley said they faced a challenge to deal with corruption that hampered the programme to pay foster care grants to the rightful children.

"This process is set to prevent the lapsing of the grant meant for vulnerable children and also help to uncover fraudulent cases.

"More than 10000 people had not yet responded to appeals to re-register," Dunkerley said.

"It might be that there is no merit for them to get these grants. We will be sending officials to care givers to find out why they did not apply for an extension."

There is a deadline of March 31 and payment will be withheld for those who have not applied.