Woman in court for grant fraud

2008-04-09 00:00

A high court judge in Pietermaritzburg has granted bail to a Greytown mother who is charged with defrauding the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) of R392 000 as a member of a national syndicate that is said to “treat all state departments as an ATM machine with never-ending funds to draw”.

This description of the activities of the syndicate is contained in an affidavit by KZN Scorpions special investigator Lucky Julius Mchunu, who opposed the granting of bail to Mbali Daisy Dladla (29) of Nhlakahle township, before a magistrate at Msinga.

Dladla was refused bail in the magistrate’s court in December, but was granted bail of R6 000 on certain conditions by Judge Isaac Madondo on appeal in the high court here yesterday.

Dladla’s advocate, Louis Barnard, submitted that the state did not concern itself with proper issues relating to bail in the lower court, but “went on a mission to build a case” against Dladla.

He submitted that the evidence is that she is not alleged to be a major roleplayer or mastermind in the syndicate, but simply a “mule”.

The court was told that she has three children aged two, four and 10 who have no one to care for them when their father is at work.

She has a serious health condition and lost her job as a cash paymaster services enrolment officer at Sassa’s Greytown and Kranskop offices as a result of her arrest.

Judge Madondo said there was no basis for a finding by the magistrate, M.J. Nkosi, that the bail money would be paid by the syndicate.

He said there was also no evidence that Dladla would evade justice, interfere with state witnesses or destroy evidence if given bail.

Detailing the work of the criminal syndicate to which Dladla is allegedly linked in an affidavit that forms part of the court record, Mchunu said the DSO received intelligence in 2006 that a major syndicate was operating in, but not limited to, KwaZulu-Natal.

He said it was established that various information technology (IT) systems within state departments throughout South Africa were compromised, and more than R20 million was lost as a result of the syndicate’s activities.

Mchunu said the investigations are continuing and new matters are being revealed daily. “The syndicate follows the same modus operandi in compromising the IT systems through the use of computer ‘spy software’ and/or computer hardware being loaded on to various computer terminals within various government departments.

“This illegal interference allows for the theft of employees’ IT log-on identification details and passwords for the operation of various state-funded payment systems, including the Socpen system used by the Sassa and the [Social Welfare Department] in the payment of social grants.”

He said the stolen details are used to hack into the state’s IT system and make fictitious or fraudulent payments to bank accounts to individuals with false particulars.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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