Home South African Department of Social Development lashed over R11.2m irregular payments

Department of Social Development lashed over R11.2m irregular payments

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The Department of Social Development has come under attack from the Public Service Commission over irregular payments of the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant.

Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

THE DEPARTMENT of Social Development (DSD) has come under attack from the Public Service Commission (PSC) over irregular payments of the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress R350 grant.

The payment of these grants stopped on April 30.

This was not the first time irregular payments had been made when it came to Covid-19 relief funds.

In March the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) revealed it had implemented stricter measures to ensure that the correct beneficiaries were paid out and has had auditors following the money trail since December.

This was after the auditor-general found significant issues with UIF Ters which resulted in irregular payments to the tune of R161 million as well as fraud.

In February, Corruption Watch released a report on UIF Ters where it alluded to possible bribes being paid to officials by employers.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for the Fusion Centre was investigating possible collusion between UIF officials and employers.

On Friday, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said R11,175,950 was irregularly paid to ineligible beneficiaries. She said the auditor-general had identified a total of 67,670 irregular payments.

She said the agency had started recovering money from 15,711 public servants who had received the R350 grant.

Local groups were concerned about the irregular payments made.

In a media statement, the PSC said it was concerned about the payments to public servants meant for unemployed citizens.

The PSC said this was not the first time such irregularities in the public service had been reported, as evidenced by a number of investigations conducted by the SIU and other law enforcement agencies.

The PSC said it was disheartening to know that individuals that were supposed to promote professional ethics and act in an ethical manner were the ones stealing from the vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society.

It called for the professionalisation of the public service so that through relevant training public servants could be equipped with skills and competencies to make ethical decisions, develop organisational integrity and apply the core ethical values and standards in and outside the workplace.

“To this end, the PSC hopes that the professionalisation of the public service programme and other public sector reforms being undertaken, when adopted and implemented by government, will, among others, go a long way in making it impossible for acts of unethical conduct to take place in the public service,” the commission said.

The PSC further hoped that the heads of affected government departments would speed up the recovery of the R350 paid to their officials and that relevant disciplinary processes would be instituted against the culprits.

The PSC said it would closely monitor the process to ensure funds were recovered from the culprits.