23 March 2021 - NW697
Gondwe, Dr M to ask the Minister of Social Development
(1)Whether, with reference to the findings by the auditor-general that some government employees applied for the Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD Grant), her department took any disciplinary and/or legal steps against the implicated government employees; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details; 2) whether any steps have been taken to recover the monies from the implicated government employees; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details; (3) whether any systems have been put in place to ensure that no government employee will be able to fraudulently and/or unlawfully apply for and/or receive the SRD grant; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
1. As at the 28th of February 2021, a total of 39672 government employees had applied for the Covid 19 SRD grant. No disciplinary or legal steps have been taken against these government employees because investigations have not yet been concluded. Once the investigations are concluded SASSA will recommend to the relevant Heads of Departments to institute disciplinary action and also to recover money paid over to the individuals.
SASSA has received numerous complaints from people whose ID numbers were used to apply for the Covid 19 SRD grant without their knowledge. Some government employees submitted applications in order to test the system or to assist applicants to apply as all applications were submitted electronically.
The Auditor General flagged 241 government employees who received the Covid 19 SRD grant payment for May 2020. This happened at the inception phase when SASSA did not have access to all the relevant databases. Some of the databases were not up to date, partly because of the lockdown.
2. SASSA has not yet concluded the investigation into the cases that have been flagged by the Auditor General of South Africa. Once the investigations have been concluded, the fraudulent cases will be referred to the relevant government departments and SASSA’s Debt Management unit to recover the money from implicated people.
3. SASSA has implemented a system to ensure that government employees do not receive the SRD grant. Through this system, the applications of 39,672 government employees who applied for the SRD grant were declined.
Monthly, ID numbers of approved and new applications for Covid-19 R350 SRD grant applicants are matched against various databases such as the databases of government employees, namely PERSAL and PERSOL. If the ID number of the Covid SRD grant applicant appears in the databases of government employees, the application is declined.
SASSA is still awaiting the Government Employees Pension Fund database which will strengthen the ability to verify applicants.
National Assembly Written Reply: 697 of 2021
Approved by the Minister of Social Development