Over 170 000 South African government employees are illegally receiving more than R200 million in social grants administered by the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) every month.
The Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu revealed this in a parliamentary response to questions from DA Member of Parliament, Mimmy Gondwe. According to the Zulu, the 177 108 public service employees from national and provincial government departments skimmed a combined R200 787 648.
The government is now on a mission to recover the funds. Public servants were entitled to receive a grant for a foster child and may also get a care dependency grant only when paid for the same child. Zulu however revealed, in a five-page report to Parliament, that government employees also received other grants, including old age, disability, and child support.
“Since the information has been extracted, arrangements have been made to suspend the grants, apart from the foster child grants, for all public servants. Those who still qualify will have to come in and review the grant, and provide current information on their income to determine whether they still qualify to receive these grants”
Measures will also be taken to recover any funds overpaid, said Zulu. The lion’s share of the R200 million went to KwaZulu-Natal government employees who looted Sassa out of more than R107 million.
The second-largest amount, R19.6 million was taken by Northern Cape government employees, while Gauteng and Eastern Cape government employees were in the top four after getting R18.1 million and R16.3 million, respectively.
Minister Zulu added:
Gondwe said it “can’t be right that public service employees drawing salaries from state coffers are applying for grants intended for beneficiaries that really require those grants”.
Gondwe said Sassa needed to strengthen its systems to ensure that no public service employees benefitted from grants they were not meant to receive.
“I am surprised by the high number of public service employees that are currently receiving grants and obviously, I welcome the commitment made by the minister in the response that measures will be taken to recover any funds paid to public service employees who do not qualify for those grants,” said Gondwe.
“They [employees] will be reported to their various departments so that disciplinary and other legal action are taken against them,” she added.