File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA).
Sassa Northern Cape has confirmed that numerous social grants in the province have been suspended.

Regional spokesperson Inno Khunou said on Monday that the grants had been suspended for various reasons, including fraud, to ensure that the lifelines of beneficiaries were protected.

“In the Northern Cape, 115 grants disbursed through the Capitec bank were affected.”

These included 55 cases in the Frances Baard district (with 36 of these being cleared), while the ZF Mgcawu district had 29 cases (with 17 cleared). In the John Taolo Gaetsewe district there were 26 cases, all of which were cleared, in Pixley ka Seme there were four cases and three were cleared, while Namaqua had one case that is still to be cleared. The remaining 33 cases are still being processed,” Khunou said.

She stated that in cases involving Child Support Grants, it was found that the primary caregiver had applied for a grant for the child and opted to use personal bank account particulars of another party, like the grandmother or sister, and not their own.

“Upon investigations conducted periodically by Sassa, this was discovered and an enquiry of possible fraud was raised. Once the suspicion was cleared, the grant was reinstated.”

According to Khunou, when Sassa suspected grant fraud, the best option was to suspend the grant to protect the money and then institute an urgent investigation.

Stopped

“Once the primary caregiver realises the grant is stopped, they must visit the Sassa office with their ID documents and birth certificates of the children to verify the details on the Sassa system. If the primary caregiver wishes to open their own bank account into which the grant should be paid, Sassa will issue an Annexure C form to be taken to the bank to confirm the account details and stamp it. The form must go back to Sassa to inform the agency that the grant should henceforth be paid into the caregiver’s bank account,” Khunou explained.

She added that the agency worked with relevant stakeholders, including all banks, to ensure fraud in the grant system was defeated.

“The agency is committed to stamping out fraud and will therefore continue to verify bank details of beneficiaries, thereby ensuring that we pay the right social grant to the correct beneficiary at the right time and place,” she concluded.

Any affected beneficiary whose payment has been stopped and does not fall within the category stated above is advised to contact the Sassa Northern Cape toll-free number 0800 003 077.

Sassa nationally said yesterday that in a move to combat the prevalent grant fraud targeting social grants, it had initially stopped 6 000 payments. This figure, however, went down substantially in the August payment cycle as a result of stringent measures put in place to combat fraud by both Sassa and the SA Post Office.

“An intensive process of studying the trends was embarked upon and the modus operandi of the fraudsters was exposed. Subsequently, systems and controls were tightened. We can confidently say that the noose has tightened on these criminals and the law will deal harshly with them. In the recent past, the courts have not only sentenced people found guilty of social grant fraud but has issued orders for them to repay what they stole from the state,” Sassa said in a statement.

“We are working with relevant stakeholders, including all banks, to ensure that that fraud within the grants system is ultimately defeated. Sassa is committed to addressing fraud and will continue to do verification of bank details. This means that if a record is not corrected with both Sassa and the bank, the payment will not go through every month.”

DFA