Sassa scam ‘puts country at risk’

Cape Town 160216- Waldie Terblanche, Sassa Regional Manager speaking to Scottsdene pensioners in Kraaifontein about the alleged scam that is taking place. Picture Cindy Waxa

Cape Town 160216- Waldie Terblanche, Sassa Regional Manager speaking to Scottsdene pensioners in Kraaifontein about the alleged scam that is taking place. Picture Cindy Waxa

Published Feb 17, 2016


Cape Town - Illegal deductions from social security grants is an “endemic disease” with more than 10.5 million bank accounts nationally vulnerable to syndicates operating with “advanced technology”.

The extensive fraud has the potential to affect 16.8 million families relying on grants to get by.

This emerged at a public meeting on Tuesday attended by representatives of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), human rights organisation, the Black Sash, and more than 200 angry grant beneficiaries who say money is illegally deducted from their accounts.

Black Sash forms part of the inter-ministerial task team set up by Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini to investigate social grant fraud.

The Black Sash told the Cape Argus on Tuesday that the incidence of fraud had increased in the past eight months.

Earlier this month, Sassa revealed that more than 2 000 cases of fraud were reported to its 16 local offices in the first four days of the month.

Black Sash national advocacy manager Elroy Paulus said the whole country was at risk.

He said the problem was endemic and that the 10.5 million bank accounts serving 16.8 million families were exposed to potential fraud.

“This was called endemic and a disease in Parliament by the Department of Social Development themselves.

“It is not solely because of individual decisions or an unintended consequence,” he said.

Paulus said the department and Sassa should “fix the problem”.

“Sassa should hold its service provider, Cash Paymaster Service, directly accountable.

“If in any way they have facilitated deductions that are unlawful, in our view immoral, sometimes fraudulent, if it was facilitated through this way.”

Paulus said illegal deductions had reached such a scale that the “gains” made by the country in the past 20 years were being “eroded”.

“It is morally reprehensible that a company can enrich itself at the cost of the poor.

“It fuels inequality and it will undo the gains made by the state.

“We want those responsible to account and those that have been instrumental and have facilitated these deductions to be held to account,” he said.

Sassa regional head Waldie Terblanche said the agency had been dealing with “irregular deductions” from social grants in recent months.

He said legislation was being tabled in Parliament to “put a stop” to illegal deductions of airtime, electricity and life policies.

Hundreds of Sassa beneficiaries have, since the beginning of the year, been crying foul over illegal deductions with masses of people protesting outside the Athlone Civic Centre demanding answers from officials they said refused to address ongoing complaints of fraud.

The agency has since attended several public meetings held in various areas in the Cape Flats to address issues of fraud.

A meeting was also held in Manenberg last week where more than 50 irate beneficiaries vented their frustrations.

Sassa officials did not attend the meeting, with Terblanche saying his office was not informed.

Sihle Ngobese, the spokesman for MEC of Social Development Albert Fritz, said there was no space for “empty rhetoric” and “frivolous talk shops”.

Terblanche offered disgruntled beneficiaries a solution to curbing the alleged illegal deductions by filling out affidavits at local police stations.

However, this advice was dismissed by beneficiaries who said that would mean a new affidavit would have to be filed every month to remedy the issue.

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