Sassa lost R11m after thousands improperly benefited from the R350 grant

Nearly 32,000 people improperly benefited from the Covid-19 SDR grant

Sassa said at least 31,955 people improperly benefited from the R350 social relief grant. File photo.
Picture: South African Gov‏ via Twitter

The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) lost about R11m after 31,955 people improperly benefited from the Covid-19 social relief of distress (SRD) grant, the agency told the parliamentary select committee on health and social services.

Sassa executive for grants administration Dianne Dunkerley told the committee that the agency investigated all beneficiaries after it emerged from a March report by the auditor-general that 67,000 people may have benefited from the grant even though they were not entitled to it, while some were overpaid.

Dunkerley told the committee the agency stopped these payments to prevent any further loss of money.

“There are monthly validations done across all the databases that we have access to. So it doesn’t matter what the previous decision was. In the new month, we will go and validate those against the updated information that we have received to make sure that on a month by month basis, the beneficiaries do in fact qualify for the grant,” Dunkerley said.

The R350 SDR grant was introduced last year and ran until April this year, It was reintroduced in July and will be paid until March 2022.

The grant is aimed at providing assistance to “persons in dire material need that are unable to meet their families’ most basic needs”, including those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and unrest in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The agency warned last Friday that it will take action against government employees who unlawfully benefit from the grant.

“Sassa exercises zero tolerance to any deliberate attempt to access social grants by people who do not qualify for these.

“Further action will be taken where it is found ineligible public servants have continued to receive these grants,” said Sassa.

By Cebelihle Bhengu – TimesLIVE