The provincial SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) was fleeced of more than R15m in social grants fraud since 2006, reports have shown.
This revelation comes at a time when Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has called for all social grant beneficiaries to register anew at the beginning of March.
The move is meant to tighten security around the fund meant for the poor and vulnerable but has been subject to abuse and manipulation by both members of the public and government officials.
Sassa marketing and communications manager Smanga Selemani said the value of signed acknowledgement of debt by officials and members of the public since 2006 to date amounts to R15185348.
“In total, there are 2862 people who signed acknowledgement of debt. They include Sassa officials, civil servants and members of the public,” Simelani said.
Apart from this huge number, the agency is yet to process 1373 cases and their value is still to be calculated.
Simelani said these are cases where misconduct was detected but members of the public are yet to come and sign acknowledgement of debt, or in the case of officials, the disciplinary procedures are yet to kick in.
“In the same period, 217 Sassa officials were given written warnings while 157 were found to have defrauded the social grants system.
“Three officials have since been suspended,” he added.
The number of people convicted for defrauding the social grants system is 1350 and a worrying 2364 civil servants were caught up in this net.
Commenting on the readiness for the reregistration exercise, Simelani said the agency was ready.
“All systems are in place and it’s not going to be a tedious process for us as we just add one process to our system, that one of taking people’s biometrics, like fingerprints and voices.
“It is only new applicants who are going to be added to the new system directly. For those already in the system, we just need to collect their biometrics at pay points,” he said.
He indicated that between June and December this year, they expect to add all recipients to a new card system that comes with all the security checks under the new order.
Simelani said those people who receive their grant payouts at banks would have time allocated for them to give their biometrics.