UIF TERS money paid out to government officials, soldiers, prisoners and deceased

Picture: iStock

‘Some people hope nobody will check and if nothing happens, they will claim even more the next time.’ – Kimi Makwetu, Auditor-General

A total of 6 140 government officials claimed TERS benefits from the Relief Fund to the value of R41 009 737.70, while 59 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) staff claimed R327 638, seven prisoners claimed R40 657.93 and claims to the value of R441 144.34 were paid out to 68 deceased individuals.

Advocate Andy Mothibi, head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), ascribed these pay-outs to the failure of both people and systems with a measure of collusion and fraudulent activities. He was speaking at a presentation on the UIF’s financial management relating to the Covid-19 pandemic to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), along with the Auditor-General (AG).

The SIU is also investigating various other audit observations made by the AG, such as ID numbers and bank account numbers which are the same as those of UIF employees, double dipping, people sharing banking details and people with invalid ID numbers.

Other observations include payments above the maximum threshold, overpayments, underpayments, duplicate payments, unsubstantiated payments and applications, and payments to foreigners and under-age applicants.

The AG also observed various issues with calculation, verification and dating of claims, as well as fraud risks, non-compliance with the instruction note, discrepancies relating to the appointment of service providers and unfair awarding of contracts in appointing five companies to run an awareness campaign on radio and television to the value of R6.1 million.

The SIU team will now focus their investigation on government employees with Persal numbers and SANDF staff, prisoners and UIF employees claiming from the Relief Fund. Excessive amounts claimed by individuals and/or companies and individuals receiving social grants claiming from the Relief Fund will also be investigated.

So far 11 suspects were arrested for UIF fraud to the value of R14 481 774.20. Only R4 705 205.78 was recovered. The companies whose details were used to commit the fraud are Mega Bus and Coach (one arrest), CSG Resourcing (Pty) Ltd (five  arrests) and National Adhesive Distributors CC (three arrests) from Pretoria, Mtiti Drop-In Centre in Polokwane (one arrest) and KBAC Flooring (Pty) Ltd in Sandton (one arrest).

A total of 70 criminal cases were registered with the SAPS and are being investigated by the SCCU. So far no arrests have been made in relation to these matters with a value of R 1 490 436.15.

AG Kimi Makwethu said these were perfect examples of what happens when no control measures are in place. He also warned the electronic space presented even more challenges and requisite protection was needed.

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