Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu says around 5 812 public servants applied for and received the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant (SRD). The public servants fraudulently applied at a cost of R5.8 million.
A multi-stakeholder forum is investigating the 5 812 cases
Zulu says her department is currently working with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Department of Public Service and Administration and the SAPS. Their aim is to bring the accused public servants to book.
Although 5 812 public servants were caught and identified, only 242 cases were sent by the department for further investigation. Zulu, in a written Parliamentary Q&A said this was decided to be the best course of action.
The intention of the “multi-stakeholder forum” is to fully investigate the 5 812 cases. Firstly, a sample of 242 cases must be dealt with. Zulu says this will allow them to learn from it “through identification of challenges and their resolution”.
The investigation into the public servants will follow a process
According to Business Tech, the investigations are following a process where:
- It must be determined whether the public servants in question qualified for the grant;
- It must be determined whether the people in question were still employed by the government at the time of the alleged fraud;
- Individual disciplinary cases against the civil servants are opened up;
- Loss recovery processes are initiated; and
- Where the public servants refuse to sign an acknowledgement of debt, Criminal Procedure Act processes are invoked.
The investigation of 242 sample cases found that:
- Investigations revealed that 44 civil servants qualified to receive the SRD grant as they were employed on a sessional basis, resulting in 198 civil servants being taken for disciplinary and criminal action.
- Of the 198 public servants, DPSA advised that 44 were no longer in the employ of the government resulting in 154 disciplinary files being handed over to DPSA for the coordination and monitoring of the disciplinary hearings with Departments at the Provincial and National level.
- Internal investigations involving 198 civil servants were concluded and the opening of individual cases is in progress. The process of opening 198 cases is scheduled to be concluded by the end of May 2022.
- For the purposes of loss recovery from the government, employees who refuse to sign an acknowledgement of debt forms, Section 300 of the Criminal Procedure Act, will be invoked.