Media Release: 11 March 2016
For immediate release
Open letter to Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Tshililo Michael TM Mashutha
Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan
SASSA CEO Virginia Petersen
Black Sash Condemns Massive Foster Care Fraud in KZN
With reference to News24s online article dated 8th March 2016, 'Probe into R19m KZN foster care grant fraud' (www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/probe-into-r19m-kzn-foster-care-grant-fraud-20160308), the Black Sash condemns any corrupt activities or form of corruption especially within the Department of Social Development and specifically within SASSA.
In light of the scandalous and disgraceful disclosure in KZN, the Black Sash demands that all implicated officials and social workers at the department's Lower Umfolozi offices be arrested and criminally charged in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities (Act 12/2004) and Prevention of Organised Crime Act (ct 121/1998). This is a serious crime involving 1 376 fraudulent foster care grants and a massive R19million.
This crime does not require any forensic investigation or special task team to verify whether the payments were legitimate or not. Forensic investigations and Task Teams have produced reports that have had little or no action.
This is a priority crime which must be referred to 'The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation' that was specifically established to prevent and combat theft from the public purse (www.saps.gov.za/dpci/index.php).
The Black Sash and like-minded civil society organizations in KZN demand that the Minister and MEC for Social Development hand over the 'Ministerial Committee's Report' to the Hawks without any delay. With the high prevalence of corrupt activities and low conviction rates in our country, the Black Sash does not believe that a specialist task team or committee is empowered by the rule of law to act as prosecutors or judges. Serious priority crimes involving the theft of millions of rand are the responsibility of SAPS and National Prosecuting Authority (National Prosecuting Act (Act 32/1998). Stealing public funds specifically allocated to alleviate child poverty must be condemned and discouraged in the strongest terms possible.
The Black Sash commends the work of the Ministerial Committee on Foster Care for exposing blatant corruption. To demonstrate to citizens that government is serious about arresting the corruption phenomenon, especially in public administration, the Minister and MEC for Social Development have been presented with an opportunity to act against scoundrels who for a very long time have enriched themselves at the expense of the poor.
Furthermore, the Black Sash proposes that the Minister consider the following measures to arrest corrupt activities within the Department of Social Development, including SASSA:
All officials including social workers be trained and skilled in applying the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act in the work place (i.e. anti-corruption training);
All officials including social workers be subjected to 'life style audits' by SARS and Auditor General of South Africa All officials including social workers be subjected to ethics training (see www.ethicsa.org/)
Let the courts determine the fate of the implicated officials and social workers. The R19million must be recovered and returned to National Treasury.