A total 6 140 government officials face criminal liability after investigations found that they had dipped into the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s Temporary Employment Relief Scheme (TERS) to the tune of R41 million.
To this effect, the government has opened 75 criminal cases that are currently under investigation.
This revelation was detailed by Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head Advocate Andy Mothibi, during a media briefing on findings of the unit’s probe into personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In August 2020, late former Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu in his audit report found that among those who benefited from the scheme were people beyond the legal age of employment, or were deceased, working in government, receiving social grants or students funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
The TERS was introduced by government to provide economic relief to the vulnerable and assist employers to protect jobs.
The SIU received allegations relating to the payment of TERS.
However, due to these matters falling outside the mandate of the Proclamation signed by the President in July 202, a secondment agreement was entered into.
“A secondment agreement was entered into between the Department of Employment and Labour and the SIU, for SIU to assist the department with the investigations. The secondment agreement came to an end on 15 December 2020,” he said.
During the secondment investigation, Mothibi said the seconded team worked closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Hawks.
The secondment team conducted a red flag analysis of the TERS data.
The team found that 6 140 government officials were identified and were claiming from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to the value of R41 009 737, making use of 3 959 bank accounts.
“Of the 3 959 bank accounts identified, a total of 581 bank accounts were associated to multiple beneficiaries (3079),” he said.
The team also identified 79 exceptions relating to members of the South African National Defence Force, with the probe revealing 59 SANDF members received payments to the value of R327 630.
The seconded team also looked into payments to inmates at the Department of Correctional Services as well as payments to deceased individuals. He said the SIU has processed a proclamation to fully investigate the UIF matters.