21 September 2010
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has called on people involved in social grant fraud to surrender to the police or face being tracked down, following the arrest of seven people believed to be part of a syndicate that defrauded the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provincial governments of R174 000 in social grants.
“Those scoundrels who may still be involved in such illegal practices and corruption, they better surrender to police immediately, or we will hunt and find them,” Mthethwa said in Pretoria on Tuesday.
According to the Police Ministry, more than a thousand people, who also face arrest, benefited from the scam, which involved the sale of fraudulent child birth charts and people claiming social grants for children that did not exist.
On Friday, the police tracked down and arrested the syndicate that had been operating in the Bushbuckridge and surrounding areas.
The ministry identified the two kingpins of the syndicate as a 41-year-old and 46-year-old man who allegedly defrauded the provinces’ South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) through illegal possession of and trading in child birth charts.
Investigating Officer Colonel Fanie Molapo said doctors, nurses and SASSA officials were working in cahoots with the syndicate.
Molapo added that one of the men had confessed to selling 130 child birth charts. “In essence this would, in some cases, translate to people buying more than one chart, thereby claiming social grants for children who are non-existent,” the ministry added.
The other man, who works at Bushbuckridge Hospital’s pharmacy section, confessed to buying the charts for R10 each and selling them for R120 each.
During his arrest, police confiscated 15 blank child birth charts, dated with the Bushbuckridge hospital’s official stamp.
Four other suspects who were in possession of the fraudulent charts, and a nurse at clinic in the area, were later arrested.
Mthethwa applauded the police’s Crime Intelligence Team for the arrests, adding that the police viewed these “despicable practices” in a serious light.
“We are particularly incensed in that such criminal acts are compromising the integrity of a legitimate programme aimed at poverty alleviation by government. We shall not allow that,” he said.