Covid-19 corruption: Govt receives 8 000 special grant applications from 'dead people'

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Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu.
Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu.
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  • The Department of Social Development received a large number of applications for the special Covid-19 grant from people who were not eligible.
  • Over 3 million were found to have other sources of income.
  • Meanwhile, over 8 000 applicants were found to have used the particulars of dead people.

The Department of Social Development received a large number of applications for the special Covid-19 grant, of which 8 000 applicants were found to be using the personal details of dead people, Minister Lindiwe Zulu said in a briefing on Friday.

"We remain concerned by the large number of applicants who despite their ineligibility, knowingly apply for the Special Covid-19 Grant to defraud the system. Over 3 million of such applicants were found to have other sources of income, including over 712 482 who were found to be receiving social grants, 605 466 were registered for UIF and 168 920 receive a NSFAS [bursary]," adding:

"Of major concern is that over eight thousand applicants were found to be using the personal particulars of deceased persons. This is not only illegal, but criminal."

Zulu was joined by provincial social development MECs to brief the media on the department's social relief measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

READ | Sassa loses R282 million to fraud over the past 5 years

The department said that due to its investment in fraud prevention and detection, it was able to deal with suspicious cases and fight fraud by working with other government entities and law enforcement agencies.

"Let me hasten to add that we will be instituting recovery measures for persons who may have illegally received the grants meant for the most vulnerable," Zulu added.

With respect to the Special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant, the department says that it has distributed R13.5 billion to more than six million eligible beneficiaries to date.

READ | Covid-19: SA officially enters second wave

Of the 9.5 million applications processed in November, over 6.9 million applications were approved and paid, according to Minister.

"We are currently processing applications for December and we intend to process payments before the last week of this month. Of these payments, South African Post Office (SAPO) accounts for 4 million, 1.6 million are paid through personal accounts and one hundred thousand through the mobile money/cash send platforms,"  Zulu said.

The Social Development Minister added that she is working with Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to address current challenges experienced by applicants at SAPO offices.

In addition, the minister said there were 40 584 unclaimed benefits, mainly from the cash send or mobile payment option.

"We have tried to reach out to applicants, with very little success. We therefore call on all applicants to collect their grants as this is intended to assist them to meet their basic needs," she said.

Government has extended the grant for a further three months until 31 January 2021.  

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