Francesca Villette

A MEMBER of a crime syndicate that defrauded the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) of millions of rand has been handed a suspended sentence after she agreed to turn State witness.

Nosipho Majola, charged with corruption, entered into a plea and sentencing agreement in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Monday. She was handed a six-year jail sentence, wholly suspended for five years on condition she is not convicted of corruption during the period of suspension.

Majola was one of 14 people arrested last month after a year-long investigation into suspected fraudulent activities at the Matlosane and Tlokwe Sassa offices in North West.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the investigation revealed that a significant number of grant applications were fraudulently captured and verified in North West.

The cards were then issued in the Western Cape and the money withdrawn in KwaZulu-Natal.

During an undercover operation, Majola offered an agent R12 500 after he agreed to and fraudulently registered IDs, and arranged for Sassa bank cards.

“Nineteen Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) officials were identified. Cash Paymaster Services (Pty) Ltd is a service provider employed by Sassa to distribute grant payments to beneficiary accounts.

“Some were dismissed while others resigned after disciplinary hearings. A member of the ring approached another employee and told him she was part of a syndicate operating from KwaZulu-Natal, and that she was looking to recruit a CPS official.

“(She) told him that she required him to load Sassa cards for payment, and she will provide details of the beneficiary to the CPS official,” Ntabazalila said.

Those accused are:

l Majola, Eliot Jilingisi, Asanda Cebisa and Ntsikilelo Mpehendukana from the Western Cape.

l Mavis Padi, Moses Piyat, Matshidiso Mosupa, Tebogo Letebele, Nomvuyiselo Phoyana, Nontsikelelo Phoyane and Anna Letsoha from North West.

l Nombuyiselo Sigcau from Mthatha.

l Nelisiwe Msimango from KwaZulu-Natal.

l Keamogetswe Gabayo- Phoswayo from Krugersdorp.

The Black Sash started a Hands Off our Grants campaign in November 2013, and it has since logged hundreds of complaints across the country about illegal deductions for airtime, electricity and water from Sassa accounts.

“The money stolen is not just from ordinary people, but illegally and immorally stolen from the state (raised through public taxes),” said Black Sash national advocacy manager Elroy Paulus.

“It has caused untold hardship to those individuals defrauded and the households in which Sassa beneficiaries live. This money was meant for basic needs – food, shelter, clothing, transport and more. We therefore commend the work of the various teams (undercover agents, Sassa, the courts and the National Prosecuting Authority).

“The wheels of justice turn slowly but thoroughly, and it revealed the inner workings of corruption against the state and Sassa beneficiaries,” Paulus said.

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