Thousands convicted for social grant fraud

Fraud and corruption finds its way into countless work environments and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) wants to vigorously combat this.

Thandi Sibanyoni, executive manager of Sassa’s internal audit and fraud management branch, said that they “review Sassa’s systems and processing to identify weaknesses that may render it susceptible to fraud and corruption”.

“Sassa’s approach to fraud management is threefold: systems, process review and implementing measures to regulate staff conduct.
Experience has taught Sassa that the success of any processes and systems seriously depends on the attitude and conduct of employees, as the latter are responsible for operating the former,” said Sibanyoni.

She said that most fraud cases are “related to private beneficiaries”. “There are also public servants who are identified for fraudulent activity from time to time. Prosecutions of public servants and non-public officials have taken place.”

Its investigations unit has brought forward 19 124 fraud cases between its inception in 2005 and August this year. There have been 16 558 convictions for grant fraud.

“Sassa has also been able to identify fraudulent grants that were terminated through the life verification project. This process enables Sassa to detect fraudulent grants that might not have been identified through a data-analysis-driven fraud detection process,” added Sibanyoni.

She said that the unit’s challenges to fight fraud included:

  • Lack of interfaces with other systems, such as the department of home affairs, although there has been some progress in this regard.

  • Inadequate capacity in other offices which impacts on proper segregation of duties.

  • Lack of automation of business processes and too much dependence on manual systems.

  • Poor work ethic by some Sassa officials.

This article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian newspaper as a sponsored feature

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