Thursday, 15 December
Two years after discovering more than 5 000 public servants fraudulently received the R350 social grant, the government cannot implement measures to prevent its employees from applying for and receiving grants they are not entitled to.
This is according to acting Public Service and Administration Minister Thulas Nxesi, who says his department has no grounds to interfere in another state agency.
“The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) does not have a mandate over the management of any grants. The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and other grant-providing government institutions manage grants in line with their constitutional mandates through the use of systems that run independently from that of the DPSA,” he said.
READ | Government fat cat earning R1m annually got R350 social relief grant – and Sassa is yet to report it
Nxesi was responding to a written parliamentary question from DA MP Mimmy Gondwe, who wanted details on the measures the DPSA has put in place to prevent government employees from unlawfully applying for and receiving any form of state grant.
In May 2020, 5 812 government officials fraudulently received the grant – to the value of R5.8 million.
Only 242 cases are being investigated.
During the screening process, the department found only 198 employees, on the list of 242, were government workers.
In July, News24 reported on the government continuing to pay social grants to some employees, even though Sassa did not have “the precise information on the employment nature” of certain beneficiaries.
In September 2021, Sassa stopped paying social grants to more than 177 000 state employees – but, the following month, payments were reinstated.
Sassa, however, does not have the precise information on “the employment nature” of the reinstated beneficiaries.
By July 2021, 177 108 social grants – excluding social relief grants – were received by employees of national and provincial government departments.
READ | Some people who work for the state still getting grants as Sassa does not have info on them
According to Nxesi, the DPSA offered to assist Sassa after discovering that there were public servants applying for and receiving grants they were not entitled to.
“The DPSA offered assistance to Sassa, specifically to identify applicants who are public service employees, by comparing applicants against the personnel salary system (Persal). This allows Sassa to identify if applicants are public service employees, which enables them to block such applicants.”
The Fusion Centre is a government coordination body that involves the police, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and other departments.
“These initiatives serve to discourage and punish unethical behaviour among public servants,” Nxesi said.
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