Vhahangwele Nemakonde
Digital Night Supervisor
3 minute read
8 Feb 2021
12:04 pm

Tshwane has one of highest cases of Covid-19 Ters corruption

Vhahangwele Nemakonde

The report also found that the Ters programme shed light on employers that deducted employees’ money, but did not pay it to the UIF.

Tshwane. File image: iStock

Pretoria is one of the areas with the highest cases of fraud and wrongdoing regarding Covid-19 temporary employer/employee relief scheme (Ters) corruption, according to Corruption Watch.

The report found that many employers received funding, but failed to pay employees. In some cases, companies claiming on behalf of the employees gave them only a fraction of the money due to them.

The report came to light as Rekord continued receiving hundreds of complaints from desperate employees complaining of not receiving funds.

According to the report, Gauteng had the highest corruption reports in the country sitting at 57 with the Tshwane region being the second highest with about 18 reports.

The report also found that in many instances administration of the programme brought challenges to employees and employers, with the Department of Labour having a security breach and delayed payment issues.

ALSO READ: UIF TERS money paid out to government officials, soldiers, prisoners and deceased

In one such corruption case, R5.6-million meant for employees of CSG Resourcing, a company based in the east of Pretoria, allegedly all ended up in the account of one employee, Tshepang Phone.

In another case, a 62-year-old Hammanskraal pensioner, Moreroa Moses Leso, appeared in court in September for allegedly laundering R4.7-million meant for the Mega Coach bus company.

Both cases are being probed by the Hawks, while some of the money has since been recovered.

“By far the most reports (88%) that we received were from employees. In most cases, their income had dried up or been drastically reduced and they were desperately trying to follow up about when their Ters claims would be paid out,” the report read.

“Many employees suspected that their employers had pocketed the Ters money instead of paying it over to them.”

The report also found that the Ters programme shed light on employers that deducted employees’ money, but did not pay it to the UIF.

“In four cases, employees outlined how their employer would not claim Ters for them; and once they made enquiries, it emerged that this was because the employer had never deducted or paid UIF on their behalf.

“In a further three cases, the employer was deducting UIF but not paying it over.”

The UIF has welcomed the report, according to labour spokesperson Makhosonke Buthelezi.

Buthelezi said the department was investigating these complaints and, if it found an employer indeed pocketed the money illegally, a criminal case would be opened.

“In terms of the process, an employer is bound by an agreement to pay the money destined to workers as per the agreement.”

ALSO READ: Businessman in court over R150m UIF fraud

He explained some of the security measures improved last year after some pay-outs went to the wrong hands.

“Before we pay there is a robust validation process to ensure that the money lands in the right hands; hence, you hear some of the employers complaining about delays.

“We cross-check the identity numbers provided with home affairs and validate banking details with companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) and SARS to ensure that the details provided are the same throughout,” Buthelezi explained.

“In cases where the information does not tally, we block the payment and launch an investigation,” he said.

Buthelezi said the department was to receive a preliminary report on Friday from a team of forensic auditors investigating all Ters payments.

“Since we improved our system around August/September, we have been able to block payments for deceased persons, under-age persons, incarcerated individuals, government employees and those who are at retirement age.

“So incidents of making wrong payments have dropped significantly. We have about 40 fraudulent cases that we referred to law enforcement agencies for investigation, so you do get people who still try to defraud the system – but we can catch them,” he said.

ALSO READ: Scopa slams UIF over TERS looting, ‘no leadership’

According to the department, R57,3-billion was paid in the Ters programme since the announcement of the Covid Ters relief scheme in March 2020.

This article was republished from Rekord East with permission

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