19 suspected loan sharks nabbed in Eastern Cape, 200 Sassa cards and R110K seized

2019-07-02 12:40
Handcuffs. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Handcuffs. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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More than 200 South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) cards and R110 000 in cash were among items Sassa officials confiscated on Monday when 19 suspected loan sharks, known as "mashonisas", were arrested in East London.

The agency's fraud and compliance unit and the Hawks conducted operations in areas around the Eastern Cape town on Monday. Hemingways Mall was one of the targets of the operations.

READ: Pensioner loses entire grant after scammers duplicate his card

Sassa regional spokesperson Luzuko Qina told News24 that the agency in the province noticed that there was an increase in the withdrawal of money from beneficiaries' accounts at odd hours on the first day of grant payments.

"From midnight up to 8:00 we find that a couple of millions would have been withdrawn already. This happens because the [illegal] money lenders go to the ATMs as early as possible, sit there overnight and withdraw beneficiaries' money," Qina said. 

Beneficiaries must 'jealously guard' their cards

The arrests were made after CCTV footage at Hemingways Mall allegedly showed people carrying out transactions with several beneficiary cards.

Qina said while the agency understood that beneficiaries had a right to take out loans, he urged them to use registered lenders. 

"It is okay for them (beneficiaries) to do that (take loans), but they must ensure that they do not hand over their cards and identity documents to the lenders because that is the property of government, which is meant for one to access the grant. It is not to be used as surety," he said. 

Qina said it was important that beneficiaries "jealously" guarded their cards.

The Hawks investigation is ongoing.

"We can confirm that there is an investigation with regards to some Sassa matters, but I cannot give further comment on that at the moment," Hawks spokesperson Anelisa Feni said.

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Read more on:    sassa  |  hawks  |  port elizabeth  |  crime
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