Payments for new and outstanding applications for Covid-19 Ters relief fund have been temporarily halted following concerns raised by the auditor-general of South Africa (AGSA).
In a statement by the Department of Employment and Labour and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) on Saturday, the pause in payments would allow the department to improve controls and deal with gaps identified by the AGSA.
Acting UIF Commissioner, Marsha Bronkhorst, said people who had defrauded the system would face the law, with police investigating cases.
"There are already some cases that we have brought to the SAPS for investigation and prosecution – 35 out of a total of 146.
"This also serves as a notice to those who may have intentions to try and defraud the system. Not only will it be harder to do so, but even if they do succeed, the law will eventually get them and they will pay for stealing from the workers," Bronkhorst said.
She added that the AGSA identified deficiencies in payments of Covid-19 benefits which were already picked up by management.
"Some had already been corrected in the June payments, but we will continue to improve the systems so that it responds to needs of our beneficiaries and make the payments effective and efficient," Bronkhorst said.
She said steps had been taken to ensure systematic challenges were addressed regarding payments, saying the system would be ready as soon as possible.
These steps included accessing the databases of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and Home Affairs.
"These departments and institutions are currently busy verifying the UIF database to ensure payments reach the correct persons."
The institution had also updated its system to ensure bank verification happened quicker.
"We are also working hard currently in improving our Covid-19 TERS application portal to make sure that to the extent possible, it becomes a self-service portal to make it easy for employers and employees," she said.
"As soon as the improvements are finalised, we will be in a position to ensure that workers of this country are provided a cushion to make their lives easier," she added.
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