News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Tuesday March 19th 2019

More SA grant fraud: Health workers sell clinic cards

Brenda Nkuna

Able-bodied unemployed adults of working age, desperate for cash, are engaging in various schemes to fraudulently obtain money from the state. Buying infected TB samples from TB patients, as reported by WCN, is one scheme, another is using the clinic cards provided to mothers of newborn babies to con the state into believing you have a child.

Investigations in Khayelitsha revealed that there are corrupt health workers at state clinics who sell stamped and tagged clinic cards.

People wanting to obtain a Child Support Grant of R240 per month then fill the cards in using false information and apply for a grant.

A 48-year-old Khayelitsha resident – who spoke on condition of anonymity – has applied for three Child Support Grants although she is eligible for only one, for her 13-year-old child.

She has three other children, but they are in their twenties and no longer qualify for a grant.

She said she had bought three clinic cards for a total of R60 two months ago, in order to supplement her current income of R240 per month for her 13-year-old.

She’d made up names and dates, copied information from neighbours’ legitimate cards and took the cards to Home Affairs in order to get birth certificates.

These were then taken, with the cards, to the social development department, where she submitted her grant application.

She is expecting to get her first windfall of an extra R720 this month.

She said she knew that what she was doing was criminal but poverty had left her little choice, with all her children unemployed and she having lost her job as a domestic worker five years ago.

She said “a friend” introduced her to a “card seller” at a Khayelitsha clinic and with an extra R720 from the state, she would be able to send money to her children in the Eastern Cape, pay school fees for her youngest child and “buy decent food”.

“It’s illegal, but where must we run? We need to survive and in this game we are on our own,” she said.

Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni, speaking on Thursday at the 10th annual Steve Biko lecture at the University of Cape Town (UCT), slammed this kind of behaviour.

Mboweni said he questioned the “dignity and conscience” of people who relied on the grants without true need.

But researcher at University of the Western Cape’s Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (Plaas), David Neves, warned against taking too high a moral tone in this regard.

Neves said tightening up on the administration of grants can minimise or stop this kind of fraud.

However, there is a costs-benefit ratio to be struck, he said.

“You can make something so tightly controlled that you exclude all non-eligible beneficiaries, but your administration costs rise proportionately. So you spend more money on administration and less on alleviating poverty. We need to accept that a certain amount of grant income is going to be squandered, but that probably has to be accepted as part of the system.”

He said it needed to be recognised, particularly in the light of South Africa’s high unemployment rate and lack of skills, that there was a “hole in the welfare net” when it came to able-bodied adults of working age.

“There is simply no provision for them,” he said. – West Cape News

Tags: grants, Health, TB

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