Sassa want To Recover Funds Wrongfully Paid To many Beneficiaries

Over eight million South African citizens receive the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant each month. A recent investigation has found that some beneficiaries unduly benefited from the grant.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) along with the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has recently come under scrutiny from the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) over the administration of the R350 grant. 

During a DSD parliamentary committee meeting, the AGSA presented a review of the department’s Annual Performance Plan for the 2023/24 financial year and highlighted material irregularities within the department.

AGSA Tsakani Maluleke, briefed the committee on three material irregularities from the 2022/23 financial year, including payments of the Sassa R350 grant to ineligible beneficiaries and state employees.

The AGSA explained:

There were payments for social services that were not rendered to the value of R74 million; payments were made where no goods and services were received and an overpayment of R316 million to the service provider. 

To tackle these challenges, Makuleke called for a culture shift at the DSD, where proper consequence management was done, and investigations were concluded on time. 

She also issued recommendations to the department and Sassa to tighten and improve controls, and recover money paid to ineligible beneficiaries especially state employees.

The AGSA advised the DSD and Sassa to work together and recoup all grant debts for better financial management and instructed the accounting officer to implement recommendations within six months.

DSD Spending Allocations For 2023/24

The Department of Social Development is set to continue paying social grants to the value of over R90 Million to vulnerable individuals each month.

For the 2023/24 financial year, the DSD has allocated R253 billion to SASSA for the administration and payment of social grants to beneficiaries. Of this, a total of R35.7 billion has been set aside for the continuation of the R350 SRD grant until March 2024.

Sassa CFO, Tsakeriwa Chauke explained that the year-on-year six-percent increase between 2022/23 and 2023/24 was caused by an additional R400 million allocated towards the cost of implementing the SRD R350 Grant.

Furthermore, the department has allocated amounts of R5.8 billion in 2023/24, R9.1 billion in 2024/25 and R14.5 billion for inflationary increases to social grants.

Payment delays

Sassa experienced several system challenges at the beginning of the year, which resulted in payment delays, meaning that thousands of SRD grant beneficiaries did not get their monies on time.  

As a result, the agency has automated the payment process for the SRD grant, allowing them to reach approximately 95% of the grant’s beneficiaries. 

To avoid any future delays, the agency is looking to work closely with the Post Office and Post Bank to ensure that all beneficiaries receive their social grants on time.