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Deceased Beneficiaries Receive Millions in SASSA Grants

Reportedly the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has incorrectly disbursed over R140 million in social assistance payments to beneficiaries who had already passed away. This startling claim emerged from a recent written parliamentary response by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu to questions posed by the opposition Democratic Alliance party.

Post-Life Proof Lapses

Minister Zulu acknowledged that over the last three years, SASSA had erroneously issued grants to deceased individuals in instances where the beneficiary died after providing their annual “proof of life” documentation to Home Affairs, but before SASSA could update their records and halt upcoming payments.

R140 Million Mistakenly Paid Out

The figures disclosed show the full extent of thesemisdirected payouts – in 2021/2022 around R59 million went to the deceased, followed by approximately R50 million in 2022/2023. From April 2023 to January 2024 alone, over R31 million more was paid out to grant recipients who had died. In total, a staggering R140 million flowed to the accounts of the late over a three-year period.

Retrieval Attempts

When notified of a beneficiary’s death, SASSA indicated it immediately freezes their account and attempts to recoup any erroneous payments from the deceased’s next-of-kin.

Home Affairs Data Sharing

Zulu stated that SASSA collaborates closely with the Department of Home Affairs, conducting monthly cross-checks of its records against the national population register to verify which beneficiaries are still living before disbursing grants. Only those with current “proof of life” status receive payouts.

Oversight Shortfalls Cited

However, opposition voices like the African Transformation Movement have condemned the lack of effective controls that allowed such substantial sums to be paid to the dead. They decried the oversight failures as unacceptable wastage amid South Africa’s dire inequality, poverty and unemployment crises.

This issue compounds other recent allegations of Social Development funds being misallocated, including over R100 million meant for gender-based violence programs.

While protocols exist to prevent payments to deceased recipients, opposition parties insist more robust monitoring and governance frameworks are urgently needed at SASSA and the Department of Social Development to ensure full accountability for every rand spent on social assistance.

With public discontent growing over allegations of cross-government corruption and wasteful expenditure, the outcry reinforces calls for stringent oversight to validate disbursement accuracy.

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