Sassa fraudster turns State witness, gets suspended sentence

2016-06-21 13:06


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Cape Town – A woman arrested in connection with a cross-provincial crime syndicate accused of defrauding the South African Social Security Agency of millions has been handed a suspended sentence after she agreed to testify for the State.

Nosipho Majola was sentenced in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crimes Court to six years imprisonment, wholly suspended for a period of five years, on condition that she is not convicted of corruption during the period of suspension. She pleaded guilty after being charged with corruption.

She was one of 15 people arrested last month after a year-long investigation, following the discovery of suspected fraud at the Matlosane and Tlokwe Sassa offices in the North West.

The probe led to the unearthing of a significant number of fraudulent grant applications, Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said.

"This showed that, although the different grants were captured, verified and approved in the North West Province, in the majority of cases the actual issuing of Sassa cards were done in the Western Cape and withdrawals of money in KwaZulu-Natal."

The suspects, who recently appeared in the commercial crimes, court are:

- Mavis Padi and Moses Vincent Piyat from Tlokwe;

- Nelisiwe Msimango from KwaZulu-Natal;

- Eliot Jilingisi, Asanda Cebisa, Ntsikilelo Mphendukana and Nosipho Majola from the Western Cape;

- Matshidiso Divine Mosupa, Tebogo Divine Letebele, Nomvuyiselo Gladys Phoyana, Nontsikelelo Nikiwe Phoyane and Anna Manna Letsoha from Matlosana in the North West;

- Nombuyiselo Sigcau from Mthatha and

- Keamogetswe Gabayo-Phoswayo from Krugersdorp.

Undercover operation

This comes after nineteen officials from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) - the service provider contracted by Sassa to distribute grant payments to beneficiaries - were identified during the investigation, Ntabazalila explained.

"A woman [accused Nelisiwe Msimango] approached another employee and told him she was part of a syndicate operating from KwaZulu-Natal and that she was looking to recruit a CPS official. Nelly told him that she requires him to load Sassa cards for payment and she will provide details of the beneficiary to the official.

"After this was discovered, police asked the employee to act as an undercover agent in order to assist with the investigation and testify in court during criminal proceedings. The agent was then contacted by Nombuyiselo Sigcawu from Mthatha, Eastern Cape, who requested the agent to fraudulently register beneficiaries on Sassa's SOCPEN [payment] system and also provide her with Sassa electronic banking cards which allow her to withdraw money from various accounts."

Sigcawu allegedly told the agent she would visit the Western Cape to hand over 50 IDs to fraudulently register beneficiaries on the Sassa system and then issue Sassa electronic banking cards in respect of those beneficiaries, Ntabazalila said.

The agent would not receive payment, but would be allowed to keep 20 of the cards for his services.

During an operation at a garage near Cape Town International Airport on April 1, the agent was approached by a man - allegedly Ntsikelelo Mphendukana - and Majola.

"They went to withdraw money from a bank inside the airport to pay the agent for services rendered and the arrangements for enrolling the Sassa electronic banking cards. The agent was paid R12 500 [by Majola]," Ntabazalila said.

The case against Majola's co-accused continues.

Read more on:    sassa  |  cape town  |  corruption  |  crime

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