Government coughs up R43m in card fraud reimbursements

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Over 22 000 fraud cases involving the South African Social Security Agency and South African Post Office (SASSA/SAPO)-branded payments card were reported in the 2019/2020 financial year.

This information came to light in the Department of Social Development’s (DSD’s) response to a Parliamentary question posed by Inkatha Freedom Party MP Liezl van der Merwe.

In its reply, the DSD further reveals it paid more than R43 million in reimbursements to the SASSA beneficiaries that were defrauded of their grants in the past financial year.

At the height of the social grants crisis, SAPO was gazetted as the preferred payment channel for all SASSA grants in a government-led initiative.

This meant beneficiaries would have to swap out the SASSA/Grindrod Bank-branded cards for new modernised payment cards.

Before SAPO’s takeover of social grant payments, SASSA had relied on the services of Cash Paymaster Services, a Net1 UEPS Technologies subsidiary, to pay millions of beneficiaries through cash payments, direct deposits and electronic payments.

Meanwhile, SASSA has indicated it has now paid at least 100 000 clients who applied for the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant.

This after it revealed last week that only 10 people were paid the R350 SRD grant, as part of a sample test of the payment side of its system.

“By 31 May 2020, 116 867 clients were paid for the Special COVID-19 SRD Grant. In addition, to date, over 3.5 million were checked to confirm if they are either active SASSA grant recipients, are on the UIF database or receive an NSFAS stipend.

“We have received approximately 13 million enquiries/applications about the temporary special COVID-19 SRD grant as at Monday, 25 May 2020. About 6.3 million of these were valid complete applications. The rest were either duplicate applications, incomplete, had inconsistent data, or were just pure enquiries,” says Busisiwe Memela, SASSA CEO.

SASSA opened its application system for the social relief grant on 11 May, asking qualifying applicants to upload their applications via WhatsApp, USSD, e-mail and a special portal on the agency’s Web site.

Government introduced the grant to provide financial support to some unemployed South Africans during the nation-wide lockdown. Recipients will receive R350 for six months, from May to October.

The social security agency reminds applicants to respond immediately to the SMS received from SASSA and provide their banking details through the secure link.

“This will enable SASSA to ensure payments are processed without delay to all eligible applicants. Citizens are reminded there is no cut-off date for applications for this special relief grant. Anyone who meets the qualifying criteria should lodge an application without delay.

“Beneficiaries can also check the status of their applications online or by adding GovChat WhatsApp on 082 046 8553, open chat, type ‘status’ and send.”

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11 Aug
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