KZN MPLs challenge ‘fraud into loan’rule

2011-10-12 00:00

THE KZN Legislature’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) wants to challenge a resolution, applicable nationally, that “turns fraud into a loan”.

Under the resolution about 45 000 civil servants, who fraudulently claimed social security grants, are not prosecuted or hauled before internal disciplinary hearings, but given the option to pay back the money they received.

Scopa members were shocked yesterday when they learned from deputy director-general Primrose Khumalo that the provincial government has its hands tied in terms of disciplining or taking legal action against more than 22 000 civil servants in the province who were found to have fraudulently claimed social security grants from the government.

Khumalo and her delegation were appearing before Scopa following a report by the Auditor-General that raised questions, among other issues, about civil servants who are claiming social grants while they are employed by the state.

Social security grants were intended to help unemployed parents to be able to support their families.

“Most of the civil servants involved in this scam are teachers and health workers,” Khumalo said.

“Because of fears that there will be a shortage of these personnel in the education and health sectors, a national resolution was taken under which civil servants found to have done this were asked to sign an acknowledgement of debt and to repay the amount they have received in social grants.

“The reason why we cannot charge them is because our hands are tied by this national resolution.”

Shocked Scopa chairperson Makhosi Khosa said after learning about this issue: “This is tantamount to fraud being turned into a loan. Worst of all is the fact that these people are still under the employment of the government that they defrauded.

“We need a full report on this unfair national resolution, and if needs be we will challenge it. Scopa and other government integrity management units must also be phased out as they cannot do their work while there are such resolutions. How do you promote the culture of integrity under such circumstances?” asked Khoza.

Scopa members from opposition parties also applauded the decision to challenge the resolution on the grounds that it promotes corruption within the government.

Cecil Msomi, the general manager of integrity management in the Office of the Premier, announced that the KZN government will host a provincial integrity leadership conference in Durban from October 27 to 28.

The conference is expected to discuss and recommend ways to strengthen the provincial anti-fraud and corruption strategy.

• skhumbuzo.miya

@witness.co.za

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