6325 08.3.26 Child Grants: many children are missing out on the grants, because slow processing at Home Affairs and Dept of Social Development means that some cases take as long as 3 years to be resolved. This 75-year-old grandmother (whose pension must feed and clothe around 10 family members) cares for her grandson and -daughter after their mother died of AIDS. Her granddaughter also has the disease. Picture: Cara Viereckl

Figures released by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini suggest child support grant fraud is still prevalent, according to lobby group the Alliance for Children’s Entitlement to Social Security (Acess) and the DA, with iimbombozi or “invisible children” being recorded in the system.

Acess said there were cases of people claiming to have “four sets of twins” and in some cases more than 10 biological children.

In April, the Department of Social Development also confirmed that the Special Investigating Unit had found 25 255 cases of social grant fraud by public officials since the inception of the SA Social Security Agency in 2005.

According to the latest statistics released by Dlamini in a written parliamentary reply to DA MP Mike Waters, more than five million beneficiaries were receiving child support grants to take care of just over 10 million children.

Waters said it was not just public servants who were defrauding the system, but beneficiaries making false claims as well.

He said he also found it strange that some beneficiaries claimed to have more than 10 children.

Dlamini’s reply showed there were also more than 8 000 children who not only qualified for a child support grant due to their age, but were also caregivers in child-headed homes and looked after children themselves.

Two mothers registered in the system had 10 or more children each. There were also 24 224 beneficiaries with between six and 10 biological children.

The largest group of mothers who benefit are those with only one biological child – at 2.7 million.

Responding to the statistics, Acess, an alliance of more than 1 223 children’s sector organisations, said the support grants should be extended, but there was the problem of “invisible children”, which made it difficult to get accurate statistics.

“Whether we like it or not, there are fraudulent cases. In the Eastern Cape, for example, there are children called iimbombozi which are children who do not exist (but are in the system),” said Acess communication and stakeholder relations manager Bukelwa Voko. She said the fraud was done mostly in collaboration with government officials.

“There are reports and stories whereby a person has four sets of twins. It’s very easy to defraud the system,” said Voko.

She said it also appeared that child-headed households had increased.

“People are dying every day and you get children who are left with no parents.”

Dlamini said the SA Social Security Agency had not initiated specific family planning interventions for care- givers receiving child support.

“Since many of the caregivers attend primary health care clinics, it is assumed that they would be exposed to these programmes at the clinics,” said Dlamini.

A breakdown of beneficiaries receiving child support for their biological children showed:

* 1 child – 2 738 113 beneficiaries

* 2 children – 1 656 343

* 3 children – 702 179

* 4 children – 244 364

* 5 children – 74 643

* 6 -10 children – 24 224

* 10 or more children – 2

Dlamini said beneficiaries older than 40 made up the largest group (1.7 million beneficiaries), with 8 438 beneficiaries aged between 15 and 18.

POLITICAL BUREAU