Johannesburg – The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on Tuesday announced that it has recovered R71.4 million that was unduly paid to companies through the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS).
The government set up TERS as part of an intervention to rescue industries that were negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in restrictions that included shutting down some businesses.
The SIU said errant companies unduly claimed TERS funding from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), an agency of the Department of Labour.
“To date, the SIU has recovered cash to the value of approximately R 71.4 million since it commenced with investigations in June 2021,” said Kaizer Kganyago SIU Spokesperson.
“The figure includes R 9 987 728.71 which was paid directly to the UIF by companies.”
Kganyago said some of the companies that paid money directly to UIF include South African Airways Technical, which paid back R 8 830 044.19, and RH Matjhabeng Hospital, a private medical facility in Free State.
The SIU investigation revealed that the hospital was not supposed to have applied for TERS funds because its operations were not affected by Covid-19.
The hospital management confirmed that it unduly received the funds and agreed to pay back the money to the SIU.
Kganyago said the hospital paid back R 488 458, 21.
“Immediately after an agreement was reached, the hospital deviated from the agreement held with the SIU and paid back the money directly into the UIF account instead of the SIU,” Kganyago said.
In line with the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act, the SIU refers evidence pointing to criminal conduct to the Nation Prosecuting Authority for further action.
In a related matter of fraudulently claiming TERS, earlier this year on 27 February 2023 the East London Magistrate’s Court sentenced Zimbabwe national Admirer Sibanda to one-year imprisonment.
Sibanda pleaded guilty to the identity theft charge, which was used to commit TERS fraud.
The court ordered that after serving the prison sentence Sibanda must be deported.
“The SIU was authorised by President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate allegations made in respect of the affairs of the UIF in terms of Proclamation R.8 of 2021,” Kganyago said.
“The SIU investigated TERS payments to persons who were not entitled to receive such payments; submitted false, irregular, invalid or defective applications to the UIF, including the causes of such maladministration.”