Durban - The Hawks are investigating cases linked to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) following allegations of the illegal diversion of Sassa social assistance grants allegedly by Sassa employees from beneficiaries’ bank accounts.
Warrant officer Bonisiwe Nxumalo said the allegations purported that around June 2018, when Sassa was issuing the new Sassa/South African Post Office (Sapo) bank cards, some pensioners and other Sassa grant beneficiaries never received their pensions and grants. It was believed that their monies were illegally diverted to other accounts.
“In June 2019, a total of 20 787 fraud cases had been registered within the Sapo, and of these, 12 432 social grant beneficiaries were reimbursed for the losses they suffered to the total value of more than R21 million,” Nxumalo said.
She said following Sassa recalling payments in July 2019 because of suspected fraud in that the banking details did not match grant beneficiary details. A new modus operandi was identified where a beneficiary’s social grant bank account was changed or diverted into a new bank account without the knowledge of the beneficiary. The funds would then be withdrawn from the new account by an unknown person/s.
“The Hawks are investigating these cases, and in November 2019, police made 61 arrests, of which six were Sapo employees. Of the reported cases, 18 were referred to the Hawks for further investigation. A total of 80 suspects were arrested in those cases. Cases against six accused were withdrawn pending further investigation whilst the others are on trial in various courts around the country. The investigation is continuing,” Nxumalo said.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Sassa KZN spokesperson Sandy Godlwana warned beneficiaries of fraudsters posing as Sassa employees.
Godlwana said they were inundated with reports that Sassa was changing all social grant beneficiaries’ cards with immediate effect. These reports are not true.
“Social grant beneficiaries are alerted to be wary of criminals posing as Sassa employees who are visiting communities in Mthunzini under uMlalazi Municipality coercing them to change their Sassa cards,” Godlwana said.
“Sassa is not embarking on a campaign to change beneficiaries’ cards, and under no circumstances will Sassa officials visit households to change beneficiaries’ cards. Sassa urges all beneficiaries to not cooperate with anybody who requests to change their cards and, instead, report incidents directly to the police.”
Sassa urged its clients to exercise caution not to be duped by hoax messages. Beneficiaries are advised to always keep their social grant payment card PINs safe and to themselves.
“We appeal to beneficiaries to be vigilant. If beneficiaries are not certain about information purporting to be from Sassa, they must contact us immediately or call our Customer Care number 033 846 3400 or 080 060 10 11 to ascertain the veracity of such information.”