The Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) has welcomed a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe investigating allegations of corruption and maladministration involving the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) special Covid-19 Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) benefits.
“If any of our officials are found to have been part of the alleged corruption, we will make sure that they face disciplinary action and that the law enforcement agencies prosecute them. We cannot tolerate any corruption and we applaud the President for taking this step in fighting corruption,” says DEL director-general Thobile Lamati.
“Over the last year, the UIF has had a major impact to the lives of workers in this country, distributing an unprecedented more than R60-billion to help workers cope with the lockdown blues and we wouldn’t want to have this great work sullied by allegations of corruption and maladministration.
"We have been working with the SIU, in any event, when the first probe was launched and we are just as anxious to get to the bottom of the allegations and to gain sight to all the facts and which would hopefully bring a close to this chapter,” he adds.
In terms of Proclamation R8 of 2021, the SIU is authorised to investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration in the affairs of the UIF. The investigation will focus on the payments of Covid-19 TERS benefits to people who were not entitled to receive such payments or who submitted false, irregular, invalid or defective applications to the UIF.
The investigation will look at payments from March 1, 2020, to April 1, 2021, or that took place after April 1 but are relevant to, connected with or involve the same people, entities or contracts being investigated.
The SIU has already been involved in investigation of TERS payments under secondment agreement with the DEL, which had since expired. The investigation uncovered a number of irregularities in the TERS payments, which prompted SIU to apply for a proclamation.
The UIF had, on its own initiative, employed the expertise of forensic auditors to launch its own investigation in a Follow the Money campaign. This campaign is following every cent paid to ensure that those who received the monies and were not entitled, pay it back, and for the companies that swindled their workers to pay back the money to the UIF.
So far, more than R2-billion has been returned to the coffers of the Fund, the DEL says.