- Four Sassa officials are accused of defrauding the agency of over R5.9 million.
- They allegedly captured lump sum payments of beneficiaries, using false bank accounts.
- They appeared in court - and were granted bail of R2 000 each.
Four SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) officials accused of defrauding the agency of over R5.9 million made a court appearance on Friday.
The accused - Philani Kwatsha, Mzivukile Galela, Mzwamadoda Ngoqo and Vunyiwe Toto - appeared in the Port Elizabeth Specialised Commercial Crime Court on charges of fraud.
Their duties were to capture and approve payments to Sassa beneficiaries, for which they were allocated user names and passwords for the computerised payment system.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), during the commission of the alleged fraud, the accused were employed at the following Sassa offices: Kwatsha (in Keiskammahoek), Galela and Ngoqo (in Graaff-Reinet), and Toto (in Cradock).
"It is alleged that, on 22 March 2019, the accused committed the following: Kwatsha captured 600 lump sum payments of existing Sassa beneficiaries based in various areas, including Mount Ayliff, Komani, Gqeberha and Lady Frere. The lump sum payment totalled just over R2.9 million," NPA spokesperson Anelisa Ngcakani said.
Galela is accused of capturing 303 lump sum payments on pension numbers of existing Sassa beneficiaries, who were based in various areas, including Komani, Gqeberha and Mount Ayliff. The lump sum payment totalled about R1.4 million.
Ngoqo is alleged to have captured 240 lump sum payments on the pension numbers of existing Sassa beneficiaries, who were based in Komani and Mount Ayliff. The lump sum payments totalled about R1.7 million.
The NPA added that Toto is accused of capturing 73 lump sum payments on the pension numbers of existing Sassa beneficiaries, who were based in Mount Ayliff and Komani. The lump sum payment totalled R357 700.
They allegedly substituted the bank accounts of the beneficiaries with false bank accounts for their own benefit.
"The alleged fraudulent activities of this scheme were discovered a few days later by the Eastern Cape provincial office of Sassa. The office then investigated the matter," Ngcakani added.
All payments were subsequently recalled and stopped before they could go through the bank accounts. The agency would have suffered a total loss of just over R5.9 million.
The prosecutor, Leigh-Anne Pillay-Selahle, did not oppose bail as the accused had fixed addresses, had no previous convictions or pending cases, and they cooperated with the Hawks during the arrest.
"However, she requested that an amount of R5 000 bail be fixed due to the seriousness of the offence and the fact that a minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment is applied to the offences," said Ngcakani.
Ngcakani said three of the accused had R1 000 for bail, while Toto had R2 000.
The court eventually granted all the accused R2 000 bail each.
The case was postponed to 15 November 2021 for attorneys to obtain copies of the docket.