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Sassa investigating ‘escalating’ fraud cases

Gauteng beneficiaries report having unauthorised deductions on their new Sassa/Postbank cards.
Image: Moneyweb

Pensioner Sara Thauthau from Gauteng says she was shocked to discover that Emerald Life insurers had been deducting R160 for a funeral policy she didn’t want and hadn’t bought for six months.

“l never joined any insurance. I am now unable to buy bread because l’ve lost R960.” When Thauthau was able to travel to her nearest South African Social Security (Sassa) office to enquire about the deductions, she was only then informed that it was by Emerald Life for a policy.

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Sassa then advised 73-year-old Thauthau to log a dispute directly with the insurance company. She also requested that the policy be cancelled.

When GroundUp contacted Emerald Life last month, they denied Thauthau’s allegations. The company said that Thauthau had signed up for the policy, but when asked for proof, they said the information was “sensitive” and “personal”.

In a follow-up email to the insurer about Thauthau’s request to cancel and her remuneration, CEO Etienne van der Westhuisen said, “We can confirm that the policy was cancelled and a refund on all premiums was done on 20 August to a bank account allocated to Ms Thauthau.”

In a separate case, Emma Mbatha from Langaville said she had at least three months’ worth of her R1,890 monthly pension stolen. Mbatha became ill earlier this year and was unable to travel to a post office to withdraw her grant. After recovering in June, she discovered that her money was gone.

“I thought I was confused after coming out of a long illness,” she said. Mbatha was adamant that she kept her cards safe and hidden.

“The local post office said the money was withdrawn from garage ATM machines, some of it as far as Pretoria after midnight,” said Mbatha, who needs the money to pay her medical bills and buy food.

The Post Office has promised to investigate.

“These complaints have escalated in the past few months. We are engaging with SAPO to eradicate such instances,” said Sassa spokesperson Nandi Mosia.

Kevin Maartens, chief risk officer at Postbank, told GroundUp that bank card fraud was an industry-wide concern. The Postbank/Sassa card operates within the national payment system similar to a normal bank card.

“Postbank is introducing various measures including vigorous customer awareness and education initiatives, system fraud detection upgrades as well as branch staff education. Sassa beneficiaries are encouraged to timeously report any suspicious fraud,” he said.

This article was first published on GroundUp here.

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And the phone number to check balances etc has been out of order for two years !!!

Why do you have a balance to check?

Sassa investigating itself. Brilliant.

But I thought that the Corrupt ANC were “fighting corruption”? That’s what they keep telling us.

I am so sick and tired hearing of all this corruption, can we for once just stop stealing stuff. Thanks.

Could the lion just stop trying to eat the buck for once…….

We all know why that is never gonna happen.

i won’t be surprised to hear that the steeling was another inside job in the chain from sassa right through to the last bank/atm machine used.

But isn’t the whole thing a fraud

Bloem stop down, voting the comment. Just cause u on it doesn’t mean it’s not a fraud.

This is where the problem lies, the lack of education and awareness, secondly Sassa should not allow third-parties to assist in withdrawals. The lady’s pension that went missing in Pretoria could be a relative that took her card and cashed it out. The woman is ill from what I can tell and she is vulnerable to theft of her pension. Emerald Life should be investigated by the FSCA and Insurance Ombuud, a debit order mandate is required for any debit deductions to happen. This sounds like another case of corruption. Lots of the Older folks cannot stand in line and wait for their funds to be paid hence they have third party’s accompanying them. It is a lack of education and financial literacy that wanes in on the old and vulnerable and also the breeding ground for loan sharks.

End of comments.

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