Sassa officials nabbed for defrauding the poor

2016-11-30 09:37
Two SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) officials were arrested on Tuesday on charges of corruption. The two were escorted out of the Sassa office at the Bombay Civic Centre by police after allegations they had been selling vouchers meant for the ‘poorest of the poor’.

Two SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) officials were arrested on Tuesday on charges of corruption. The two were escorted out of the Sassa office at the Bombay Civic Centre by police after allegations they had been selling vouchers meant for the ‘poorest of the poor’. (Ian Carbutt)

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An undercover operation led to the arrest of two South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) officials for selling food vouchers meant for “the poorest of the poor”.

The two women, aged 24 and 26, were led from the Bombay Civic Centre, where the Sassa offices are based, in handcuffs to a police van parked at the centre’s entrance.

A joint operation between Umgungundlovu Crime Intelligence and the anti-corruption unit saw “project granny” investigations start in August this year.

Mountain Rise police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim said the women were caught after they sold food vouchers to the value of R780 to an agent posing as a “customer”.

She said the women had allegedly been turning away those who were most deserving, “the poorest of the poor”, saying they did not qualify for the vouchers, but instead sold the vouchers to those who were perhaps not so deserving, for between R200 and R400.

Sassa KZN spokesperson Vusi Mahaye said it was alleged that an employment public works programme student and a Sassa cleaning staff member had been the two involved in the selling of the vouchers.

He said people were supposed to be screened prior to receiving the vouchers to confirm if they qualified or not, however, the two women had simply taken the vouchers from the office and were selling them on the premises.

He said the vouchers were a temporary relief to assist those who faced “undue hardship, due to disasters, death of a bread winner or still waiting for the outcome of their social grant applications”.

A Sassa statement said regional executive manager Pearl Bengu and the rest of the department welcomed the arrest and hoped it would send a “clear message” that the department had no room for “those who are involved in fraud and corruption”.

“We also wish to alert members of the community that our services are free of charge,” she said.

ANC PR councillor Manilal Inderjet said he expected the two officials to be dealt with, “with the full might of the law”.

DA ward councillor for the area Rooksana Ahmed said that any irregularities noticed at the Sassa offices were reported to the head office to investigate through her office.

She said this case of corruption especially affected the community, and that she was “happy” the arrests were made.

Ebrahim said the investigations were ongoing with more arrests within the office expected to be made. Both women will appear at the Durban Commercial Crime Court on Wednesday [today].

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  sassa corruption

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