Millions of citizens receive social grants from the government but to cut out fraud all beneficiary cases face a review process.
Bandile Maqetuka, executive manager of grant administration at the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), said that beneficiaries are notified three months in advance that their social grant status will be reviewed.
“We notify a person in writing that the grant will be due for review. SASSA is obliged to review the individual’s social grant at any time when it believes that changes in the beneficiary’s financial circumstances have changed. SASSA must also review the grant on its expiry,” he said.
Maqetuka said that the review process follows the legislated Regulations of the Social Assistance Act (2004). This legislation also governs matters pertaining to beneficiaries who fail to provide all required information for social grant reviews.
“If a beneficiary does not comply with a request for social grant review then the grant will be suspended. When it is suspended the applicant must apply within 90 days of the suspension for the grant to be restored. “You must give reasons for why you were unable to come for the grant review,” explained Maqetuka.
Applicants who are paid via bank transfers must also fill out a life certificate for SASSA’s records. “We post that form to you or you can get it at our office. You must fill in this form once a year and it is part of the review process,” said Maqetuka.
Reviews of social grants are also assisted by links with the Department of Home Affairs which informs SASSA of all deaths. When a social grant beneficiary is reported dead the grant is immediately cancelled, said Maqetuka.
He added that SASSA was also determined tostamp out any fraudulent activities. “We want beneficiaries to give us correct information. They must make sure that they are honest with us. They must report fraud and corruption regarding social grants,” he said.
“SASSA is expected to account for all public funds. We must make sure that beneficiaries meet the requirements at all times to be eligible for these grants. That’s why we must continually update beneficiary information.”
Maqetuka said that the Temporary Disability Grant is the only type that is not reviewed as it has an expiry date dependent on a medical examination. A beneficiary may re-apply for this type of grant. A Permanent Disability Grant is reviewed once every five years or when SASSA “believes the medical condition of a beneficiary has changed”, said Maqetuka.
The Foster Child Grant is reviewed on the expiry of a court order and the Social Relief of Distress Grant may also be extended upon application. All other social grants are permanent until death of the beneficiary. SASSA’s grant review decisions may also be appealed via the Independent Tribunal for Social Assistance Appeals.
This article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian newspaper as a sponsored feature