The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has told the Select Committee on Health and Social Services that at least 31 955 people had improperly benefitted from government’s R350 Social Relief of Distress grant at a cost of about R11 million.
This was in response to the Auditor General’s earlier finding that at least 67 000 people had improperly benefited from the R350 grant at a potential cost of R23 million to the state.
SASSA executive for Grants Administration, Dianne Dunkerley, told the select committee that following the AG’s findings, SASSA moved to investigate and ensure that the grants were immediately halted.
“As the AG identified these possible overpayments or payments to incorrect beneficiaries, we then stopped any future payments to those beneficiaries so that we didn’t lose any more money while we were doing the investigation,” she said.
The grant was earmarked for those who did not qualify for an existing social grant but are unemployed.
Dunkerley said more measures have been put in place to ensure that those receiving the grant are entitled to it.
“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.
She said an integrated government system that holds information about citizens would assist the agency to roll out programmes like the SRD grant more quickly.
This data, she said, would be used for poverty alleviation programmes in the future.
“One of the challenges in government is the need to have a single comprehensive view of citizens that really starts speaking to all government departments sharing their data. We have a complete data source with every single citizen in this country… that will really help to roll out programmes like the R350 grants a lot more efficiently,” Dunkerley said