Grants for 74,000 deceased ‘not Sassa’s fault’

Henry

The grants of R140 million that Sassa paid out in the past three financial years to 74 000 beneficiaries, although they had already passed away, are mainly due to circumstances beyond Sassa’s control.

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) says the payouts are rather related to the period in which the death of beneficiaries is reported by next of kin. Corruption is therefore out of the question.

Sassa’s explanation follows after Lindiwe Zulu, minister of social development, revealed this information in response to a written parliamentary question from the DA.

According to Paseka Letsatsi, Sassa spokesperson, Sassa beneficiaries’ details are pulled monthly and compared with the information held by the Department of Internal Affairs to confirm whether beneficiaries are still alive or possibly deceased in the meantime.

‚ÄúThis process only takes place around the 22nd or 23rd of each month. In a case where it is found that a beneficiary has passed away, such a record is deactivated on the Sassa system before the payment is withdrawn. This process with the Department of Home Affairs is automated and is carried out without exception on a monthly basis.”

Letsatsi says Sassa only knows that a beneficiary has died if family members report it to Sassa itself or the Department of Internal Affairs. If a death is reported late, this results in some payments being released prematurely. “Neither Sassa nor the Department of Home Affairs has any control over whether a death is reported.”

According to Letsatsi, Sassa also conducts a review of the beneficiary’s personal details every now and then to determine whether the beneficiary’s circumstances are still the same. “Currently the review process is carried out through a physical contact arrangement (face to face) between Sassa staff and the affected beneficiaries, and not virtually.”

The number of 74,000 deceased beneficiaries reported is therefore, according to Sassa, the number of beneficiaries who have died in the last three years. “This means that of the 18 million beneficiaries who are paid monthly by Sassa, there is an average of 2,055 beneficiaries who have died on a monthly basis in the past three years and whose circumstances could not be confirmed as detailed.”

According to Sassa, he is currently working tirelessly with the Department of Internal Affairs to ensure that the systems are connected, as well as with law enforcement agencies, to curb corruption.