The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) is investigating SA Post office employees at the helm of an elaborate scam that essentially wipes out South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants from beneficiary accounts.
The investigation follows a Public Protector’s report in 2018 into allegations of fund diversion from beneficiaries’ accounts.
The siphoning of grant money came when Sassa was issuing new bank cards in 2018, which resulted in some pensioners and other Sassa grant beneficiaries not receiving their pensions and grants.
“It was believed that their monies were illegally diverted to other accounts,” said the Hawks in a statement.
Then, in June 2019 a total of 20 787 fraud cases had been registered with Sapo and of these, 12 432 social grant beneficiaries were reimbursed for a total value exceeding R21 million.
That following month (July 2019) Sassa recalled payments because of suspected fraud, ie: the banking details did not match grant beneficiary details.
“A new modus operandi was identified where a beneficiary’s social grant bank account was changed or diverted into a new bank account without the knowledge of the beneficiary,” said the Hawks.
The funds would then be withdrawn from the new account by unknown people.
In November 2019, police arrested 61 suspects, six of which were Sapo employees, in connection with the scheme.
Of the reported cases, eighteen (18) were referred to the Hawks for further investigation.
A total of 80 suspects were arrested in those cases.
While cases against six accused were withdrawn pending further investigation, the others are on trial in various courts around the country.
Investigations are ongoing.
Compiled by Narissa Subramoney