The head of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has seen his suspension lifted, along with other executives at the fund.
They were suspended in September last year after a report by the Auditor-General (AG) found major problems in the irregular payments by the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS). TERS was supposed to help employees who had been retrenched or unable to earn an income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the UIF executives were not accused of fraudulent activities, they were held responsible for various problems with TERS, including that the UIF did not sufficiently corroborate information it received from applicants. This resulted in fraudulent and inflated payments, as well as to people who shouldn't have received payouts - including public servants, UIF employees, prisoners, dead people and children. These problem payouts ran into billions of rands.
The AG report resulted in the suspension of top UIF executives: its commissioner Teboho Maruping; chief financial officer Fezeka Puzi; and chief operations officer Judith Kumbi. The matter was referred to the Special Investigative Unit for investigation.
Musa Zondi, a spokesperson for the Department of Employment and Labour, told Fin24 that the suspension have been lifted, and Kumbi has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
While Zondi didn't want to give further comment, EWN reported that Maruping and Puzi will now face disciplinary hearings. Maruping has been asked not to return to the office ahead of these hearings, EWN reported.
"This probe has been finalised with clear recommendations said Zondi. "The department is bound to act on those recommendations which will be subject to internal processes."