Special Investigations Unit head advocate Andy Mothibi. Picture: Supplied
Special Investigations Unit head advocate Andy Mothibi. Picture: Supplied

Covid-19 UIF benefit attracts fraudulent activity

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published Nov 17, 2021

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Cape Town - Since the implementation of the UIF Covid-19 temporary employer/employee relief scheme (Ters) benefits, the Special Investigations Unit has had its hands full with investigations related to fraudulent claims.

To date, 11 people have been arrested in relation to irregular processes.

Special Investigations Unit head advocate Andy Mothibi on Wednesday explained the state of investigations to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).

In August last year, Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi referred allegations relating to irregularities on the Unemployment Insurance Fund to the SIU. Nxesi requested that the SIU review the auditor-general’s report on findings relating to the Ters paid during Covid-19.

The extent of investigations revealed that even inmates benefited from claims, along with provincial government departments and private businesses.

One of the known cases includes the Simbini matter, which involves a 29-year-old businessman, Thabo Simbini, who submitted over 6 000 Ters claims to the tune of R111 million on behalf of Impossible Services for various employees to his company by using the online claim process of the department of employment and labour.

Simbini, who was the only registered employee at the company, used over 1 200 ID numbers that were duplicated by himself in order to generate the claims. It was later established that the same IP address was used to generate the claims.

Seven inmates, who received Ters benefits, were also identified. This, however, relates to identity theft by foreign nationals who used ID’s of incarcerated South African citizens to apply for work with SA entities.

The SIU has finalised 303 Ters matters, with a total of 80 criminal matters having been referred for prosecution. An amount of R23.4 million that was unlawfully claimed and paid has been recovered.

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