/ 11 April 2005

E Cape cracks down on welfare fraudsters

The Eastern Cape social development department is investigating 2 000 public servants thought to be cheating the state out of R24-million in welfare grants.

National Department of Social Development spokesperson Mbulelo Musi said those under suspicion include teachers and employees of the Eastern Cape agriculture department.

Musi said the arrest of eight civil servants at Mthatha on Monday morning for grant fraud signalled the start of a countrywide crackdown on corruption in the administration of social grants.

The state believes up to 41 000 of its employees are defrauding it of up to R1,5-billion.

The eight appeared in Mthatha Magistrate’s Court on Monday afternoon.

They stand accused of illegally diverting R139 000 into their own pockets between 1999 and 2005.

Musi said the clampdown could save the state about R12-million a year.

Investigations are also under way into doctors, lawyers and other professionals abusing the system, with more arrests expected soon, Musi said. — Sapa