761 SASSA officials investigated for fraud, corruption and theft

Issued by Bridget Masango MP – DA Shadow Minister of Social Development
06 Apr 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Bridget Masango MP.

Despite the fact that more than half a billion rand has been stolen from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) over the past 10 years, consequence management seems to have been minimal.

In an answer to a written parliamentary question (PQ) [RNW372-2023-03-28] from the DA, the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, revealed that criminal cases for fraud, corruption and theft have been opened against 761 SASSA officials over the past decade – 50 in 2021/22. Yet, SASSA’s annual report indicated that only 37 cases were referred to the police for further investigation.

In another DA PQ [RNW422-2023-03-28], she revealed that there was only consequence management in 424 of these cases.

Of three cases of theft, only two resulted in suspensions without pay. The 259 cases of corruption resulted in only 69 dismissals, while only 30 of the officials involved suffered some form of suspension. Of the 122 individuals investigated for mismanagement and irregular payment, only three were dismissed.

Of the 145 ongoing disciplinary cases for things like grand fraud, circumventing supply chain management and grant processes, being linked to entities with other SASSA officials, absenteeism, and contravening transport policies, 60% are in KwaZulu-Natal.

While SASSA grant recipients continue to stress month after month about whether their grants will be paid on time, the Agency and the Department of Social Development seem to have little interest in ensuring that money vital to the survival of poor and vulnerable South Africans is safe from thieving hands.

The more than R536 million looted in the past decade would have gone a long way in ensuring that SASSA offices are capacitated and addressing system failures and safety glitches. With the rising cost of living, poor South Africans are barely keeping their heads above water. Minister Zulu must ensure that those individuals who steal from the poorest and most vulnerable are held accountable and serve as warning to any others who might have similar schemes in mind.  The Democratic Alliance will not relent in using any and all parliamentary oversight mechanisms to hold the Minister of Social Development and her department to account at all times.