The Democratic Alliance (DA) can reveal that the South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) has ordered its employees to essentially defraud its own application system by claiming that biometric testing and identification has been done for new applicants, when in fact no such information has been captured.
By not capturing biometric data, SASSA is exposing itself and beneficiaries to potential fraud by opportunistic criminals, and worse, the possibility of new applicants being swindled of their grants.
The DA will request that Social Development Minister, Susan Shabangu, urgently confirm if this is the case and if so, what action will be taken to ensure that beneficiaries and SASSA will not be defrauded.
The Minister has essentially thrown SASSA and SAPO’s plans into disarray and left officials to deal with this mess while she is out of the country in Geneva, Switzerland.
Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) previously carried out biometric testing and identification for new applicants – a service which they were paid for. However, after the CPS contract was declared invalid and SASSA migrated to the South African Post Office (SAPO), SASSA employees were meant to carry out biometric testing.
When SASSA employees demanded payment for the biometric enrolment, as it is an extra function, SASSA refused. As a result, trade union, Public Servants Association (PSA), ordered a brief suspension in the processing of new applications as the two parties could not come to an agreement on extra pay for employees.
The agreement between SASSA and the PSA has been slow. In the meantime, in a memo to its employees on 21 August 2018, SASSA instructed employees to bypass biometric testing and identification when processing new applicants.
In essence, in an attempt to save face and get the new applications processed without having to negotiate with the PSA, SASSA is requiring its employees to lie about capturing biometric data and defraud its own system.
The Minister must also clarify her remarks that all pay points will be open beyond the 30 September 2018 deadline. This seems to be in contravention of the Constitutional Court judgement and in contradiction of what SASSA has been communicating to beneficiaries about the closure of some pay points.
This means that beneficiaries could once again see the payment of grants delayed in October and beneficiaries face yet more confusion.
The DA will continue to expose dodgy processes at SASSA, especially when it puts the payment of grants to beneficiaries at risk. Biometric testing does not only protect SASSA from fraud, it also protects grants beneficiaries. The absence of biometric information creates an environment in which fraudsters can rob the disadvantaged of their only source of income.