A South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) official in the Eastern Cape has been sentenced to imprisonment alongside her boyfriend for defrauding the agency of R1.2 million.
The Mbizana Regional Court sentenced the Sassa official, Nombuso Dlamini, 44, and her boyfriend, Siyasanga Gqamane, 31, to 10 and eight years imprisonment, respectively.
The spokesperson of the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in Mthatha Luxolo Tyali said two years of each of the sentences were suspended for five years on condition that the pair “were not convicted of any offence involving dishonesty”.
“From 2006 to 2011, Dlamini was employed by Sassa as a clerk responsible for capturing social grant applications.
“She was in a romantic relationship with Gqamane.
“The couple registered fictitious social grants and used other unsuspecting people’s identity documents to open bank accounts to which social grants payments were made,” Tyali said.
He said the couple’s “elaborate scheme” resulted in the agency suffering a loss of R1.2 million.
“The duo was arrested in 2011 following an investigation into the massive scale of payments of social grants without the necessary supporting documents.
“More than 30 bank cards were found at the couple’s home. They could not provide any plausible explanation for these cards,” Tyali said.
He said the pair initially pleaded not guilty and had “employed numerous tactics” to delay the matter in court, which included changing legal representatives at least three times.
“After prosecutor, senior state advocate Luyanda Mtengwane led the evidence of the state witnesses, the two changed their plea to guilty,” Tyali said.
He said Mtengwane had argued for the court to sentence the couple to a lengthy jail term, more especially because “a government official in a position of trust” was involved in defrauding the state, an which “is becoming more prevalent in the country at large”.
“The court agreed and granted a confiscation order for the forfeiture of assets belonging to the convicted fraudsters to the value of R104,000,” Tyali said.
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)