The South African Post Office has refunded social grant recipients who were victims of fraud amounting to R21 million in all as of last month. Picture: Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The South African Post Office (Sapo) has refunded social grant recipients who were victims of fraud amounting to R21 million in all as of last month.

This was revealed by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu in a written reply to a parliamentary question posed by IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe.

Van der Merwe questioned Zulu on the total number of fraud cases reported by pensioners, as well as other social grant recipients. She also sought answers on whether these incidents were resolved, and the total costs involved.

In her reply, Zulu explained that a total of 20787 fraud cases had been registered with Sapo as at June 28.

“Of these, 12 432 social grant ­beneficiaries have been reimbursed for the losses they suffered to the total value of R21 779 451.47,” Zulu said.

She also highlighted that none of the cases at hand could be classified as “resolved” despite the beneficiaries having been paid out, saying criminal investigations were still under way.

“No amounts have been recovered as this is dependent on the outcome of the criminal investigation.”

Responding to a question about what action the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) had taken thus far in combating fraudulent activities, Zulu said any social grant beneficiary who experienced challenges with the receipt of the social grant should report to their nearest Sassa office or post office.

“The beneficiary will be required to complete a standardised affidavit and submit this, together with a certified copy of both sides of the Sassa card in his/her possession, as well as a certified copy of his/her ID to the officials.”

She said after the required documents had been submitted to Sassa, they would also be sent to Sapo’s Fraud Unit.

“After a preliminary investigation, Sapo will refund the affected beneficiary with the amount lost. The full criminal investigation will continue and prosecutions will be made once all the facts are known.”

Zulu said information around the process has been communicated to all Sassa and Sapo staff members to ensure beneficiaries were not sent from pillar to post.

She also said Sassa and Sapo were constantly endeavouring to improve their system controls in order to prevent continuous card fraud.

The minister also revealed that Sapo has since implemented an automated card management system, which enables officials to keep track of every Sassa card.

“This will enable the immediate blocking of any lost or stolen cards so that these cannot be issued to unsuspecting beneficiaries.”

According to Zulu, due to “extensive” delays in the card fraud investigations, Sapo had agreed to refund beneficiaries within 14 days of the fraud having been reported, and the relevant documents having been submitted.

Political Bureau