’Name and shame UIF TERS thieves’
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Durban THE two biggest political opposition parties in KwaZulu-Natal are calling for the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to release the names of companies, organisations and individuals who collected money or defrauded the Labour Department’s UIF Temporary Employment Relief Scheme (Ters) during Covid-19 but never paid their employees or intended beneficiaries their benefits.
The DA and the IFP in the province have urged the SIU and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that all those who were found to have defrauded the Labour Department’s UIF Ters scheme during Covid-19 were made to pay back the money from their own pockets.
According to political insiders within the two parties, there have been a growing number of complaints from workers who claim that although they contributed to the UIF on a monthly basis prior to the pandemic, many had not seen a single cent despite the companies cashing in on their behalf from the scheme.
Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) chairperson and IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said that the committee adopted a non-partisan approach to its matters, but as the IFP they expected full co-operation with the investigation from the UIF.
Yesterday, he said that if employees within the private sector and (Labour) department were proven to have had a hand in the alleged crime, law enforcement and the government needed to take drastic steps to ensure that those implicated were dealt with accordingly as a display of intolerance against fraud and corruption.
This comes after a recent SIU presentation to Scopa in Parliament on the Ters corruption. “The UIF is in a state of limbo and the financial irregularities being alleged come as no surprise.
The IFP has confidence in the work of law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned to ensure successful prosecutions and recoveries to the state and cancellation of all irregular contracts,” Hlengwa said.
SIU chief investigator Johnny le Roux revealed that the auditor-general’s findings suggested that no proper supply chain management processes were followed to appoint at least five companies for the awareness campaign, and that the appointments were made based on a motivation for sole service providers.
The contractors pocketed R6.1 million to conduct advertising campaigns on the UIF Covid-19 Ters scheme on their respective radio and TV channels. The investigation found that SANDF staff had fraudulently claimed R327 638 while inmates, 68 dead people and 6 140 government officials claimed R40 657, R441 144 and R41m respectively.
The SIU was hoping to uncover more irregularities within the system, said the unit in the presentation. It was also observed that there were 53 applicants who were below the legal age of employment who received benefits from the Ters fund of R224 677 for the period up to June 30.
The report also highlighted that payments of R685m were made to 166 619 foreign nationals whose employers had not paid contributions to the UIF for the past 12 months.
The DA’s Scopa member, Alf Lees, said that the UIF Ters relief fund was used as a vehicle to siphon money in order to enrich connected people.
“This was made possible by the officials involved breaking the tender laws. Those officials involved as well as the companies that were enriched must be forced to pay back the money from their own pockets,” he said.