Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi says he has requested the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to probe irregularities and processes regarding the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) COVID-19 funds.

Nxesi was responding to Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu’s first special report into the government’s COVID-19 initiatives.

The report says government’s IT systems are not able to respond to the challenges of distributing the multi-billion rand relief package and that a high number of UIF and South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) payments need to be investigated.

UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping was placed on precautionary suspension along with the UIF’s CFO, COO and Head of Supply Chain Management.

Nxesi says new systems implemented by Treasury will improve the payout of UIF COVID-19 funds.

He says, “We have the experts from the Treasury who are there, who are helping to relook at our systems and these are the experts who are continuing to fix where gaps have been identified. I’ve said yes I do take responsibility in terms of oversight and policy directives and I’ve done a lot of policy directives during this particular period. If they’ve been incorrect, that’s why I’ve suspended the people, that’s why I’ve gone to the SIU.”

COVID-19 corruption I Auditor-General Kimi Makwethu:

Change of grant payment method

Sassa says it has given beneficiaries of the COVID-19 Relief Fund six days to change from receiving their grants at the post to their bank accounts.

Sassa Spokesperson Sandy Godlwana says the beneficiaries must ensure that the bank accounts they provide to the agency belong to them.

“Make sure that that the banking details and cell phone number you provide are registered in your name as Sassa cannot deposit money into another account. Bank accounts must be left opened as payment is delayed if paid into closed accounts. Those who do not update their details during the window period, or provide incorrect banking details will have their payments for the remaining months sent to the post office. Approved beneficiaries can visit our website which is www.sassa.gov.za for more information,” says Godlwana.

This development is an effort to address challenges some beneficiaries have experienced in trying to access their special relief grant from the post offices.

Sassa says the payment of the COVID-19 grant is quicker if paid into a bank account and has encouraged applicants without bank accounts to open accounts.

It says any citizen who does not update their information during this window period, or who provides incorrect banking details will have the payments for the remaining months sent through to the post office.