UIF dealing with 157 fraud cases relating to COVID-19 relief funds

There have so far been nine arrests, and more are expected by the end of this month.

The extended UIF call centre in Johannesburg. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

CAPE TOWN – The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has told Parliament it is so far dealing with 157 fraud cases related to employers’ claims for COVID-19 relief funds for their employees.

There have so far been nine arrests, and more are expected by the end of this month.

The UIF was briefing the National Council of Province’s select committee charged with oversight of the Department of Employment and Labour.

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi last month suspended the UIF’s top management in the wake of the Auditor-General’s special report on COVID-19 funding, which flagged a host of irregularities and control failures.

UIF COVID-19 payments were briefly suspended so that new control systems could be put in place and the Special Investigating Unit is currently probing the matter.

UIF acting commissioner Marsha Bronkhurst said the fund’s internal audit committee had reported that new controls in place were working to prevent the money falling into the wrong hands.

“In terms of fraud cases, we have received a total of 157 cases, these are employers, not individuals. Ninety of these were suspected fraudulent claims, which included, for example, ghost employees, working and drawing – where companies were in full operation, but were still claiming for COVID TERS (and) companies claiming for employees whose services had been terminated before the period.”

The cases include employers who gave incorrect salary information.

Bronkhorst said 67 of the cases had been finalised so far.

“Nine people thus far have been arrested and we are expecting more arrests by the end of this month.”

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