Criminals demand "payback" from families of deceased grant recipients

OUTA whistleblowers alert SASSA to national grant scam apparently involving officials. SASSA is investigating and calls for more information from any other victims.

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03/12/2020 12:26:34

                                                                         Picture: GroundUp

Criminals demand "payback" from families of deceased grant recipients

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.

“We believe that this practice is inhumane and culprits must face the full brunt of the law,” says OUTA’s Portfolio Manager in the Public Governance Division, Dominique Msibi. “We call on all South Africans who have experienced this to report it to the fraud hotline on 0800 701 701.” This is the national anti-corruption hotline for the public service.

Dunkerley said that grant payments cease at the end of the month in which the person passed away.  “Some family members withdraw the grant following the death of a family member which is also wrong. This forces SASSA to engage with those members who need to sign an acknowledgement of debt to pay back the money. In this case, all repayments will either be done at local SASSA offices’ tellers, via EFT and/or a direct deposit into SASSA’s bank account. Never in cash to any person at your home,” Dunkerley added.  When any money is paid to SASSA, there must be an official receipt issued, which the citizen should keep as proof of having repaid the money.

National Anti-Corruption Hotline 0800 701 701