CAPE TOWN - A Durban woman has been released on R5 000 bail after appearing in court this week for allegedly swindling the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s (UIF) Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) of more than R1 million.
It is alleged that between April 2020 and August 2020, Phathiswa Bodlani, 37, through her company, applied for Covid-19 TERS for 49 workers and received R1 009 338.
As a result of the UIF’s “follow the money” process, which entails auditing all Covid-19 payments, it was discovered that some of the people for whom she applied were not Bodlani’s employees.
A case of fraud was opened at the Durban Central police station and joint investigations by the UIF’s auditors and the Hawks investigators led to Bodlani’s arrest on Tuesday.
She appeared at the Durban Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Wednesday and was released on R5 000 bail. The case was postponed to May 20.
The UIF said at least 20 suspects have been arrested for Covid-19 TERS-related fraud and more are expected in the coming months.
UIF commissioner Teboho Maruping lauded the fund’s auditors and the Hawks for their work.
“We will not rest until we have followed and accounted for every cent and rand that was paid through Covid-19 TERS and where wrongdoing is uncovered the law must take its course,” said Maruping.
The UIF’s Covid-19 TERS was established in March 2020 to save jobs and ease the financial burden on businesses and workers who lost income during the various levels of the lockdown. To date, R64 billion has been paid to 5.7 million workers.