Government Confident It Can Stop Looting of SASSA Grants in 2024

Can Government Finally Secure Leaky SASSA Grants in 2024?

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By Anele Zulu

The South African government has expressed confidence in its ability to prevent further looting of funds from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in 2024. This comes after investigations in 2023 uncovered widespread corruption that resulted in the loss of approximately R90 million from SASSA grant funds.

We have implemented robust cybersecurity measures and overhauled procurement and payment systems to close loopholes and prevent future looting,” said Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Mondli Gungubele in a statement.

“The days of officials exploiting the SASSA system for personal gain are over.”

SASSA Grants Critical for 18 Million South Africans

SASSA distributes social grants to over 18 million low-income and vulnerable South Africans every month. These grants, including old-age pensions, disability allowances, and child support, are a critical lifeline that enables recipients to afford basic necessities.

However, the agency has faced chronic challenges with making payments accurately and on time. Over 600,000 older persons’ grants were paid late in 2023 due to what officials described as “technical glitches.” The glitches were later revealed to be a smokescreen for large-scale looting targeting grant funds.

Investigations Uncover R90 Million Missing

Independent investigations by auditors KPMG uncovered suspicious activity and confirmed almost R90 million was misappropriated from SASSA coffers in 2023. The losses were enabled by flaws in the newly implemented payment IT system and exploited by unscrupulous officials at Postbank, the state-owned entity contracted to distribute grants.

Several Postbank executives and the entire Board were found negligent and subsequently fired. An illegal R140 million contract between Postbank and its former IT services provider is also under scrutiny and faces potential cancellation.

Government welcomes adoption of Post Office business rescue plan
Source: The South African

Multi-Million Rand Cybersecurity Upgrades Implemented

To prevent repetition of the looting debacle, Minister Gungubele revealed the government has invested heavily in cybersecurity upgrades and improved payment protocols.

We have implemented new systems to monitor transactions, identify anomalies, and blacklist suspicious recipients. Biometric authentication of beneficiaries has also been rolled out to verify identities,” the Minister stated.

The measures are intended to plug vulnerabilities in the payment chain that allowed criminals to steal funds and launder the proceeds undetected last year.

SASSA has also strengthened procurement policies and contracted independent audit firms to regularly review deals with private partners. This should prevent wasteful contracts like that signed between Postbank and its former IT company.

Private Sector Bidding to Administer Grants

With public trust in Postbank shaken, several private companies are competing to secure the contract to distribute SASSA grants when it expires in 2024. They are promising world-class payment platforms and strong anti-fraud mechanisms to safeguard funds.

Minister Gungubele expressed optimism regarding SASSA’s engagements with prospective private partners. “We are working closely with the private sector to leverage innovation that will benefit grant beneficiaries. The days of unstable services and stolen funds are behind us,” he stated.

The government seems determined to remedy systematic flaws that enabled looting of critical social assistance funds in 2023. With multiple security layers now in place and closer monitoring of procurement processes, the Minister asserts SASSA grants are no longer vulnerable to corruption come 2024. However, the true test will come when monthly payments to 18 million recipients resume next year under a new contract


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