Cape Town - Nearly 4 000 public servants have been found to have applied for the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Stimulus Relief Fund during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A chief of staff in the office of an MEC in one of the provincial governments has yet to be criminally charged for pocketing the R350 social grant.
None of the implicated officials have faced any disciplinary or legal action since they received the social grant two years ago.
This was revealed by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu when responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP Mimmy Gondwe.
The Social Development Department was allocated R588 728 000 as part of the ECD Stimulus Relief Fund in July 2020.
The amount included R380 million for unemployment risk support for 83 333 ECD workers and R116m for the support of 25 500 compliance support officers.
Gondwe requested the number of public servants who applied for and received monies from the Early Childhood Development Presidential Stimulus Relief Fund.
In her written response, Zulu said 3 729 public servants have been found to have applied for ECD Stimulus Relief Fund payments.
“None of them received the monies as they were identified prior to processing the applications for payment as the department conducted a due diligence during the verification process,” she said.
Zulu could not provide a breakdown of officials who applied for the income support “as the department did not pay any public servants from the ECD Presidential Stimulus Relief Fund”.
While the department stopped irregular payments to public servants from the ECD Stimulus Relief Fund, it was not the case with the R350 grant.
The auditor-general identified a total of 67 670 irregular payments made to civil servants and it was previously reported that SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) started recovering money from 15 711 public servants who received the R350 grant.
In April, Zulu said 5812 cases involving public servants were referred for investigation to the Fusion Centre.
Out of the 242 cases selected to assess the prospect of success in criminal prosecution, 198 were found to be public servants who received the R350 social grant.
Among those who received the R350 grant were one director, 14 deputy directors and six assistant directors.
Responding to a separate set of questions from Gondwe, Zulu confirmed that information regarding the 198 implicated employees was received from the Department of Public Service and Administration in March.
She said the case of the director who applied for and received a R350 social grant has not been brought to the attention of his or her head of department.
Zulu blamed the failure to inform the relevant head of department on Sassa wanting more information on the director.
“The agency is expecting to receive all relevant information pertaining to the level 13 official before it can open a case with the South African Police Services.
“When this is received, we will concurrently inform the head of the department responsible for the official through the Department of Public Service and Administration as agreed on how the process should flow,” she said.
Zulu revealed that the implicated director worked in the office of an MEC in an unnamed department.
“The official is a chief of staff at one of the provincial government departments.”
The minister added that of the nine cases referred to SAPS, three were still under investigation and prosecutors declined to prosecute in six others.