Aug 8, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Some UIF employees quit jobs when facing Covid-19 TERS fraud probe

UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping says some fund employees facing investigation into Covid-19 TERS fraud have resigned abruptly but could still face prosecution.

Others who stayed did, however those found to be involved in wrongdoing were fired, he said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“Some of them were fired. Some of them gave us 24 hours notice and left almost immediately. But in some cases we criminally prosecute them where we find that there has been criminal activity. Some of the cases are now being investigated. We want to take steps to either get the SIU [Special Investigating Unit] on board… it [the investigation] will take other forms,” said Maruping.

He spoke in Cape Town about the Fund’s priorities in the Fiscal year 2021/2022. He said UIF recovered millions fraudulently skimmed or wrongly paid to beneficiaries.

Maruping was recently reinstated to his job in 2020 after a year’s suspension, according to an auditor’s report -General found irregularities in Covid-19 TERS payments.

He resumed his duties on February 1 after a lengthy investigation by the SIU. He was found not to have profited from Covid-19 TERS in a corrupt or fraudulent manner, but a disciplinary hearing found him guilty in connection with the irregular appointment of media houses to market Covid-19 TERS.

Maruping also warned that if SA’s economy continued to suffer further as UIF funds are depleted, workers who lose their jobs would be less likely to fall behind in the future.

Covid-19 TERS- Disbursements of about R61 billion over the last two years had reduced the fund’s coffers to R120 billion.

Asked if he was concerned about the impact of the sluggish economy on the fund, he said: “I am concerned. If the economy continues to fail in terms of job creation, entrepreneur creation and business survival, this will affect the UIF coffers.

“Sooner or later, the UIF will run out of funds. It’s a cause we and leaders are a part of.”

Regarding long lines at Department of Labor offices across the country, which have worsened during the pandemic due to sweeping cuts, officials said, there have been several interventions, including strengthening channels to accept applications such as email, Dropbox, online platforms such as U-Filing, the UIF app used to receive applications, payment requests and general enquiries.

Despite various challenges, the fund had used its expertise in dealing with fraud to streamline its processes to make the system more difficult to cheat and to become more risk-aware.

Maruping, who called snake snakes “unacceptable” said he expects them to get shorter in the near future. Officials also denied they had turned people away or imposed daily quotas.

The department also reported that of 2,428 employers screened for compliance with the UIF in the Western Cape, about 1,195 were found to be compliant and 257 were referred to Referred to law enforcement.

Out of a total of 30,252 inspections conducted in the province related to employment equity, UIF and minimum wages, 8,809 were found compliant and 804 were referred to law enforcement.

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