The City of Johannesburg (CoJ) has uncovered over 1 500 employees, who fraudulently benefitted from the Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant, including the child, military veteran and social pension grants.       

Executive Mayor Geoffrey Makhubo initiated the investigation, conducted by the city’s Group Forensic and Investigation Services (GFIS).

According to the CoJ, GFIS found that 419 city employees received the R350 relief grant, which has been extended to January, while 1 129 workers illegally received other grants unintended for unemployed people.

“As a City, we have committed ourselves to instil the values of accountability and transparency across the city and at all levels. From the onset, we made a commitment to deal with fraud and corruption across the city, and to ensure there are consequences for wrongdoing,” Makhubo said on Tuesday.

Makhubo’s office has since initiated disciplinary proceedings against those implicated.

Meanwhile, the GFIS has been tasked to share its findings with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) for further action, which may lead to criminal prosecution.

Furthermore, several investigations are undergoing and will be shared with the council and the public once they are finalised.

“We are intolerant of malfeasance and criminal activity. We stand opposed to any form of corruption and remain committed to dismantling the walls of impunity that were erected under the previous administration in the city – brick by brick.”

Makhubo said the fight against corruption is real and in motion.

A few months ago, an Auditor-General (AG) report identified about 30 000 undeserving R350 COVID-19 grant applicants, who received the grant while not meeting the qualifying criteria.

SASSA has been working tirelessly to strengthen its controls and the evaluation of applications.

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