After a statement which was issued by a Member of Parliament calling for Minister Zulu and the CEO of SASSA to account on the more than 1 500 City of Johannesburg employees who were found to be in receipt of social grants refers.

SASSA said it pursues an active fraud prevention strategy and has always exercised a zero tolerance to anyone who commits or is complicit in fraud in the social grant environment. The agency’s CEO, Ms Totsie Memela said the City of Johannesburg employee were identified as a result of this strategy. Memela also added that SASSA and the City of Johannesburg have been co-operating on this matter since July this year.

According to Memela, this strategy also led to the confirmation that there are 4 726 beneficiaries who withdrew their social grants outside the borders of South Africa during the lockdown period.  She said the grants were all suspended in September, as the legislation requires any beneficiary to be a South Africa citizen.  She also explained that the fact that cross border travel was not permitted indicates that these social grant beneficiaries are residents of South Africa’s neighbouring countries.

“It should further be noted that all social grants are means tested.  This requires the applicant for any social grant to declare his/her income on application.  In addition, each and every beneficiary of a social grant carries the responsibility to report any change in his/her financial circumstances to SASSA immediately.  It could happen that a citizen applies for a grant when he/she is not employed, and subsequent to approval of the grant, she or he becomes employed.  SASSA will not know about this unless the beneficiary reports the matter; it is to deal with these situations that SASSA has to regularly review social grants,” said Memela.

Memela further added that through the implementation of the special relief grant of R350 per month, SASSA has been able to access databases from other government departments to validate the income of applicants of the grant. She said the relationships developed during this pandemic will greatly assist SASSA in strengthening its validation processes, even for the long term social grants in the future.  She said it will enable checks to be done to ensure that the financial information provided is complete and that grants are indeed provided to those who qualify for the grants.

“Furthermore, every citizen in this country has a responsibility to any report wrongdoing wherever it may be seen.  This responsibility extends to the reporting of grants being received by citizens who do not qualify for them.   Unfortunately, it appears that it is acceptable for citizens to take from government with impunity, as it is government money and there is plenty more where that comes from, rather than to understand that the money being used is taxpayers’ money, and everyone who receives what they is not entitled to, is in fact taking away from someone who depends on that money,” she added.

Memela concluded by saying that SASSA will continue to call on citizens to report the misuse and incorrect payment of social grants. She said the agency will continue with the implementation of its fraud prevention strategy, and strengthening collaborative efforts with any organisation that can support it in its endeavour to ensure that the social grants system, which has been internationally acknowledged, continues to support the most vulnerable members of our society.

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