Saturday, May 18, 2024

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SIU welcomes court appearances of alleged TERS fraudsters

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The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has welcomed the arrests by the Hawks and subsequent start of the prosecution of four people linked to the alleged defrauding of the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) in the Eastern Cape.

The scheme, which was administered by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), was created by government to assist employers and employees that were distressed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the SIU, the four accused allegedly claimed benefits that were not due to them and were exposed following an investigation by the unit.

The four accused are Nomvuzo Melody Kupiso, Tlotliso Molaba, Lehlohonolo Class Motaung and Lelokonyana Isak Letseng.

The corruption busting unit said Kupiso, through her company, Khayathi, unlawfully applied for TERS benefits on behalf of individuals who were no longer employed at Khayathi “through misrepresentation and intending to defraud the UIF”. 

“Khayathi and Kupiso unlawfully and falsely made or created the proof of payments, which appeared to have been signed by the ’employees’ on receipt of the TERS benefit at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The individuals have not been employed at Khayathi since 2015. The UIF released the total payment in the amount of R216 905.95 to Khayathi.

“On 23 January 2024, the SIU referred the matter to the relevant prosecuting authority. On 18 April 2024, Kupiso was arrested and appeared on the same day before the King Wiliams Magistrates Court, Eastern Cape, on fraud, forgery, and uttering allegations. Kupiso was released on R1 500 bail,” the SIU said.

In the case of Molaba, Motaung and Letseng, the SIU alleges that the three – through their companies, Afrikhan Source (Pty) Ltd owned by Molaba and Motaung and Izuz Gibbor (Pty) Ltd owned by Letseng, “applied for the COVID–19 TERS online during two different periods”.

“Between March 2020 and October 2020, Afrikhan Source applied for COVID–19 TERS on behalf of individuals allegedly affected by the COVID–19 pandemic. The UIF made nine payments amounting to approximately R1 396,053,40 to the company’s account between September 2020 and December 2020.

“Between July 2020 and October 2021, Izuz Gibbor made applications for COVID-19 TERS on behalf of certain individuals who claimed to be affected by the pandemic. The company received nine payments from UIF, amounting to an estimated total of R101 555.92, in this period. However, it was discovered that the applicants never worked for either of the two companies.

“The SIU referred the matter to the prosecuting authority. The suspects were arrested in Bloemfontein and Phuthaditjhaba, Free State, on 25 April 2024. They were granted R10 000 bail each and the matter has been postponed to 11 June 2024,” the SIU said.

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