The Department of Employment and Labour has welcomed the Special Investigation Unit’s (SIU) probe into allegations of corruption and maladministration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s special COVID-19 TERS benefits.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa recently signed a proclamation authorising the investigation.
The department’s Director-General Thobile Lamati said: “We welcome the probe into allegations of possible corruption and maladministration into the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s [UIF] special COVID-19 Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) benefits”.
In a statement on Wednesday, the DG said the department has been working with the SIU in any event when the first probe was launched.
“We are just as anxious to get to the bottom of the allegations and to gain sight to all the facts and which would hopefully bring a close to this chapter,” he said.
“Over the last year, the UIF has had a major impact to the lives of workers in this country, distributing an unprecedented over R60 billion to help workers cope with the lockdown blues and we wouldn’t want to have this great work sullied by allegations of corruption and maladministration.
“If any of our officials are found to have been part of the alleged corruption, we will make sure that they face disciplinary action and that the law enforcement agencies prosecute them. We cannot tolerate any corruption and we applaud the President for taking this step in fighting corruption,” he said.
The UIF had on its own initiative, employed the expertise of forensic auditors to launch its own investigation in a “Follow the Money” campaign.
This campaign is following on every cent paid to ensure that those who received monies and were not entitled to it, to pay it back and for the companies that swindled their workers to pay back the money to the UIF.
So far, over R2-billion has been returned to the coffers of the Fund.
The investigation will focus squarely on the payments of COVID-19 TERS benefits to people who were not entitled to receive such payments or submitted false, irregular, invalid or defective applications to the UIF, including the causes of such maladministration.
“The investigation will look at payments that dates back to 1 March 2020 and 1 April 2021 or that took place after 1 April but relevant to, connected with or involve same people, entities or contracts being investigated,” said the department.
The SIU has already been involved in investigation of TERS payments under a secondment agreement with the Department of Employment and Labour, which has since expired.
The investigation uncovered a number of irregularities in the TERS payments, which prompted the SIU to apply for a proclamation.