The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has raised the flag on thousands of suspicious transactions stretching from June to August. The agency has suspended several officials as a result and is taking special precautionary measures to prevent any fraudulent transactions. In an effort to combat grant fraud, SASSA recently stopped 6 000 payments.
“What we experienced in June, through our business intelligence program, was that there were a number of suspicious transactions taking place. We normally have a cut-off for the grant applications for processing the payment files for the next month. Just before that cut-off, we saw a number of transactions going through. This is where the officials, with some guilty persons, actually switched accounts,” said SASSA general manager, Henry de Grass.
“We stopped the suspicious transactions last month because we were looking at large amounts…not only in the Western Cape.”
De Grass says that the actions taken by SASSA have effectively reduced the number of suspicious transactions.
“Those [suspicious] grants were put on suspension and this month again we watched what happened…but the number was reduced from 2500 [suspicious transactions] to 500. That is one of the precautionary measures we started putting in place to stop these fraudulent transactions.”
“It’s an inconvenience for the correct beneficiary…when they go to collect, there’s no money for them.”
Several officials have consequently been suspended and De Grass has acknowledged the need for further investigation.
De Grass also urged beneficiaries to not use their cards for loans.
“We always ask beneficiaries to not use their cards to get a loan. The Act and the regulations are very clear: you cannot use your grant to get a loan.”
“We have warned beneficiaries that if we find their cards in the possession of money lenders, we will call in the beneficiary and give a written warning. We have also arrested the money lenders when we found these cards in their possession. The card belongs to SASSA – it is government property. Action will be taken against both the beneficiaries and the money lenders,” said de Grass.
An official statement by SASSA provided clarity on the situation, explained what is now required from beneficiaries and apologises to all those unjustly affected by the suspicious transactions.
“SASSA is working with relevant stakeholders including all banks to ensure that that fraud within the grants system is ultimately defeated. SASSA is committed to addressing fraud and will continue to do verification of bank details. This means that if a record is not corrected with both SASSA and the bank, the payment will not go through every month,” reads the statement.
“Any innocent and affected beneficiaries whose payments have been stopped, are advised to make an affidavit at the police station. The affidavit should confirm the correctness of bank details and account holder details. After making an affidavit, the beneficiary must take their bar coded or smart card ID together with the completed affidavit to SASSA or the post office. Those using personal banks must bring along proof of banking details from their banks. SASSA wishes to apologise unreservedly for any convenience that might arise.”