More than half a billion rand has been stolen from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in the last 10 years, but consequence management appears to be minimal.
In an answer to a written parliamentary question from the DA, the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, revealed that criminal cases for fraud, corruption and theft have been opened against 761 SASSA officials over the past decade.
“However, SASSA’s annual report indicates that only 37 cases were referred to the police for further investigation,” says Bridget Masango, the DA’s shadow minister for social development.
In another parliamentary question, Zulu revealed that there was consequence management in only 424 of these cases.
“Of three theft complaints, only two resulted in suspensions without pay. Of 259 corruption cases, only 69 led to dismissals, and 30 of the officials involved were suspended. Of the 122 individuals who were investigated for mismanagement and irregular payment, only three were fired,” says Masango.
Of the 145 ongoing disciplinary cases, 60% are in KwaZulu-Natal.
“While beneficiaries wonder month after month whether their much-needed SASSA grant will be paid on time, the agency and the Department of Social Development seem to have little interest in ensuring that the money is kept safe from thieves,” says Masango.
According to Masango, the more than R536 million looted in the last decade would help ensure that the SASSA offices are capable of tackling system failures and security problems.
“With the rising cost of living, poor South Africans are barely keeping their heads above water. Minister Zulu must ensure that the individuals who steal from the poorest are held accountable and this serves as an example to any other employees who have similar schemes in mind.”
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