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Ex-SASSA officials get 10 years imprisonment for fraud

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Former South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) officials have been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for defrauding the state of almost R1.2 million in a well-orchestrated manipulation of the agency’s system.

Nombuso Lynette Dlamini (44) and Siyasanga Gqamane (31) were sentenced by the Mbizana regional court last week Friday after they were convicted of creating, capturing and approving fictitious social grants using unsuspecting people’s identity documents.

The suspects’ fraudulent activities were uncovered in 2011 and upon their arrest, multiple bank cards were found in their possession.

Provincial National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali says Dlamini, a former clerk at SASSA, and her accomplice Gqamane, “also opened bank accounts using the identity document numbers and the fictitious names used when capturing the applications. The social grants were then deposited into those accounts.

“After a lengthy trial, the duo pleaded guilty after the state had presented its evidence. As the NPA, we welcome the sentence with the hope that it’s going to serve as a deterrent to other government officials, who intend defrauding the state,” Tyali says.

The news comes as 23 other SASSA officials in Mpumalanga are facing similar charges, and security experts are warning of increased cases of insider attacks on organisations.

The group appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Tuesday, say the Hawks.

The 23 officials and accomplices have been warned to appear in the same court again on 4 September.

In April 2016, the officials approached and recruited individuals to submit their identity documents to register them for disability grants.

The alleged fraudulent grants were used to channel money to the officials while the so-called beneficiaries were compensated with a small portion.

“The matter was reported to the police and the investigation revealed that all beneficiaries were in fact not disabled despite having been registered as such. The investigation around the matter was finalised and the accused were served with court summonses to appear before court,” says Hawks Mpumalanga spokesperson Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi.

Last week, ITWeb reported that three would-be hackers appeared in court facing charges of corruption, fraud, conspiracy to commit an offence, and contravention of the Electronic Communications Act.

Manny Corregedor, chief operations officer at information security company Telspace Systems, comments: “The insider threat is something that has and always will be around. There are several technical controls that organisations can put in place in order to monitor for and alert on such activities, especially from a financial or fraud perspective.

“It's also important for organisations to realise that the insider threat, as with other information security threats, requires a layered approach that is not solely based on technology but also factors in controls around people and process.”

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