About R161 million paid out from the Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Covid-19 Ters), administered by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), was to people who should not have received it according to the Department of Employment and Labour.
The Covid-19 Ters scheme was only meant to support people in private employment who had seen their salaries cut as a result of their employers not being allowed to operate, or who were seeing their earnings slump as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. It was in no way allowed to support state employees, all of whom – excluding the cabinet and deputy ministers – received their full salaries during the crisis.
The irregular payments under the scheme came to light in response to questions in Parliament from Democratic Alliance MPs Michael Cardo and Leon Schreiber. The department said it had found there were up to 9 494 employees on the government’s salary payment system Persal, who were also getting Covid-19 Ters payments – otherwise known as ‘double-dipping’.
The department also said there were 78 people on the SANDF salary payment system who were suspected of double-dipping.
The total number of state employees suspected of getting a salary and a Ters payment is 9 572 and the total amount paid to them is R41 337 376.06.
The department says it is not letting the matter rest and is working with the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to look into the issue.
“The matter is under investigation by the UIF Fraud Unit as well as the SIU and based on the investigation recommendations, the recovery process will be initiated by UIF. In addition, possible criminal cases and internal disciplinary cases can be instituted.”
Government employees are not the only ones suspected of getting irregular payments. The department found that there were thousands of people who were also receiving disability and old age grants, as well as Covid-19 Ters payments.
|Applicant’s ID numbers same as UIF employee||1||R4 027.45|
|Applicant’s bank details same as UIF employee||4||R1 613.89|
|(Sassa) disability grant||20||R69 419.36|
|Prison inmates||26||R129 242.64|
|Below legal age of employment||53||R224 677.43|
|Possible double-dipping– Sandf||78||R327 638.36|
|Invalid ID numbers||4 161||R30 071 248.84|
|Possible double-dipping – Persal||9 494||R41 009 737.70|
|(Sassa) Old age grant||22 611||R88 814 684.36|
|36 561||R161 093 434.37|
Source: Parliamentary Monitoring Group
The Covid-19 temporary relief scheme does not explicitly exclude people who also get disability and old age grants, but to qualify for an old age grant, recipients must not be getting any other state grants.
Aside from the grant recipients, the department said there were clearly those who should not have benefited from the scheme, such as the applicant who has the same ID number as a UIF employee, the four whose bank details are the same as UIF employees, the 26 prison inmates, the 53 people who were below the legal age of employment, the 113 deceased people, and the 4 161 with invalid ID numbers.
The number of problematic claims constitutes 0.003% of total payments of R51.04 billion paid to date.