The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) is extremely concerned about a death threat that was made to a staff member who is auditing companies that benefited from the Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Covid-19 TERS).
Earlier this week, the Fund was alerted by a law enforcement agency that an employer made an anonymous threat to kill the UIF official if the audit proceeded. The audits on employers are part of the UIF’s “follow the money” project to ensure that the right amounts of money were paid over to workers at the right time and that employers did not abuse the money.
UIF Commissioner, Teboho Maruping, has strongly condemned the death threat, saying that the Fund would not be deterred from auditing all employers who benefited from the R62 billion paid to date through Covid-19 TERS.
“As the UIF, we view the threat in a very serious light. Equally, we are gravely shocked and disturbed by this threat against the official who is a dedicated public servant, committed to ensuring that workers’ monies were not abused.
Since the inception of Covid-19 TERS, the Fund has observed with great disappointment how some employers received monies but failed to pay it over to their workers. In some instances, we learnt with disgust that employers were paying over only part of the monies and not the full amounts, and that companies were using funds for other than the intended purposes.
Therefore, these malicious and criminal acts to interfere with our audit process will not be tolerated and we shall continue doing our work without fear or favour,” said Maruping.
To date, at least 10 people have been convicted and sentenced to direct imprisonment or suspended sentences for fraud, theft, and money laundering in relation to the Covid-19 TERS. The most prominent case was a matter where 20 years of direct imprisonment was meted out to Bookkeeper, Lindelani Gumede, for R11 million worth of Covid-19 TERS fraud.
Another 30 suspects have also been arrested for Covid-19 TERS related offenses and the Fund anticipates more arrests as Phase 2 of the “follow the money” project, which started in July 2022, continues.
Source: Government of South Africa