Seven arrested for social grant fraud

2010-09-20 21:02

Johannesburg - Seven people appeared in the Calcutta District Court in Mpumalanga on Monday for social grant fraud, the police ministry said on Monday.

"Through illegal possession and trading of child birth charts the provinces' SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) was defrauded," said police ministry spokesperson Zweli Mnisi.

The two men and five women allegedly defrauded the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provincial governments by selling child birth charts for R120, "enabling access to social grants".

Two male leaders of the alleged syndicate, aged 41 and 46, were arrested on Friday night. They admitted to having sold 130 child birth charts, said Mnisi.

"This means that some people (are) buying more than one chart, thereby claiming social grants for children who are non-existent," Mnisi said.

According to Mnisi, one of the arrested men, who worked at Bushbuckridge Hospital's pharmacy, said he bought the charts for R10 each, dated them with the Bushbuckridge hospital's official stamp, and sold them for R120.

Further investigation led to the arrest of two people who had purchased the fraudulent charts and five people who were in possession of the charts and who were allegedly planning to sell them.

The seven appeared at Calcutta Court in Bushbuckridge on Monday facing charges of fraud. Their case was postponed to September 27 for a formal bail application.

Minister of police, Nathi Mthethwa, said more than a thousand people who falsely benefited through this scam were expected to be arrested as investigations continued.

"Amongst them are doctors, nurses and Sassa officials who are working in cahoots with this syndicate."

Police estimate that the scam, which had been operating since 2004, had cost the provincial departments at least R13m.

"We applaud the good work of the police in tracing and arresting these scoundrels... We are particularly incensed that such criminal acts are compromising (the) integrity of a legitimate programme aimed at poverty alleviation by government," Mthethwa said.