More than 214,000 social grants were paid out to dead beneficiaries between January 2020 and October 2021, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu revealed in a written reply to questions tabled by the Democratic Alliance.
A further 59,000 people were paid a R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant after they had passed away.
Asked how grants can be paid after someone has passed away, Minister Zulu said the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) uses data provided to them from the Department of Home Affairs with several of the deaths being reported to the department late.
Zulu said that some grants are paid out after an individual has lost their life.
She added that Sassa was already recovering portions of the money claimed after the deaths of the beneficiaries.
“The total number of vouchers for the R350 social relief of distress grant extracted after the death of the beneficiary for the period under discussion is 59,089. Again, this is the total number of vouchers extracted but the actual number paid out will only be known on receipt of the full reconciliation from the South African Post Office,” Zulu said.
Social grants are a major part of South African society as the R350 grant supports 33% of people across the country with one-third of South Africans depending on grant payments every month.
Image source: @EastCoastRadio
OUTA and SASSA warn the public to be aware of criminals claiming to be SASSA officials who demand the last grant payment made to deceased beneficiaries.
“No SASSA officials visit beneficiary homes to collect any money on behalf of SASSA. This has to be reported in instances when it happens because it would be regarded as fraudulent”, says SASSA’s Executive Manager of Grants Administrations Dianne Dunkerley.
Whistleblowers in Limpopo and Mpumalanga alerted OUTA to the scam, and OUTA alerted SASSA. The whistleblowers said that people claiming to be SASSA officials, driving SASSA-branded vehicles, approach the families of recently deceased grant beneficiaries to collect the last grant payment made to the deceased in the month of the death. “The male official added that the grant money belongs to SASSA once the beneficiary passes on, and the family should pay back the money to SASSA and that is the reason they were there to collect the money in cash on behalf of SASSA,” a whistleblower who chose to remain anonymous told OUTA.
The similar incidents in both Limpopo and Mpumalanga indicate this could be a national scam, targeting many families of deceased beneficiaries. The use of official SASSA branding and the access to the list of beneficiaries and the knowledge of the deaths raises serious concerns.
OUTA reported the incidents to SASSA and encouraged the whistleblowers to report the cases to the police.
Following its investigations, OUTA met with Dunkerley, who said SASSA had no knowledge of such incidents and emphasised that beneficiaries should provide details so matters may be investigated.
SASSA’s investigation is ongoing.
OUTA and SASSA agree that this illegal practice affecting the families of deceased grant beneficiaries must be stopped.
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