Sassa officials convicted over social grant fraud of R750,000
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) in KwaZulu-Natal has welcomed the sentencing of five of its officials to a total of 37 years behind bars for processing fraudulent social grants amounting to R750,000.
The five officials were convicted in the Ulundi Regional Court on Tuesday following a five-year investigation which started in 2013 after police received a tip-off about their scam.
The tip-off led to the arrest of officials employed by Sassa service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to distribute social grants payments to beneficiaries. The suspects included members of the public.
Four of the officials were each sentenced to eight years, while another was given five years.
The convicted officials were implicated in stealing enrollment equipment from Sassa’s Umbumbulu office, south of Durban, which they used to process fraudulent social grants in Ulundi in northern KZN in the middle of the night in February 2013.
They devised a scheme to enrol members of the public for social grants based on fraudulent applications. Some of them were responsible for recruiting applicants for enrolment.
The applicants then paid money to the officials for them to process their fraudulent applications and the officials gave them Sassa-branded Master Card cards to enable them to receive and draw social grants.
The agency revealed during its presentation of the 2012/13 annual report to the National Council of Provinces that 50 people in Mahlabathini near Ulundi had been found in possession of 127 unregistered Sassa cards, three Cash Paymaster Services' registration machines and R47,000 in cash.
KZN’s acting Sassa regional executive manager, Zanoxolo Mpetha, congratulated the law enforcement agencies and their officials who were cracked the case.
"This sends an unequivocal message to all those who are involved in corruption hoping to defraud the social grant system under the impression the case will never come back to haunt them. We believe this will be a deterrent to all those aspirant in defrauding the social grants system," said Mpetha.
Vusumuzi Mahaye, Sassa's senior manager for communications and marketing, said fraud committed by the convicted officials through processing fraudulent grants amounted to R750,000.