Photo: African News Agency (ANA)

Botshabelo - Thirty-three South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) beneficiaries on Wednesday appeared at Botshabelo Magistrate Court on fraud charges, police said.

Police spokesperson, Colonel Thandi Mbambo, said the 33 were granted bail of R500 each and the alleged mastermind, Malefu Mokhethi, 41, was denied bail.

Mbambo said their arrests were done as part of  Operation 'Project Combat' on Monday. Some 30 women implicated in defrauding the state through social grants, in various Sections in Botshabelo, were arrested. 

"Five males were arrested on Tuesday and two women were not charged," said Mbambo.

"The alleged mastermind behind the scam, targeted vulnerable people with a promise of assisting them to obtain social grants. She allegedly issued them with fraudulent doctor`s referral letters qualifying them to apply for grants for a fee ranging from R200."

Police have advised "beneficiaries" to call Sassa on 0800 60 1011 if they are offered any assistance with regard to grants in exchange for money.

Project Combat targets people who are fraudulently applying for welfare grants.

"This is the first phase of the operation, more arrests are still imminent. We are calling on those who know that they were part of this scam or are fraudulent beneficiaries of government grants to come forward and hand themselves, because it is just a matter of time before we arrest them,"said Lieutenant General Moeketsi Sempe.

The trio will appear in court again on May 22

African African News (ANA)