Friday, 09 July 2021

Pretoria: The net is closing in on those who defrauded the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) COVID-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefit.

This was the case with Boitumelo Mashele, who was this week convicted after her company misappropriated R736 598 from the UIF.

Mashele was found guilty by the Specialised Crime Court of Pretoria this week and received a three-year suspended jail sentence.

“In addition, the court ordered her to repay R215 000 to the UIF after the disposal of her house, while the balance of R 521 598 will be recovered from a preservation order that was obtained by Asset Forfeiture Unit last year,” the UIF said in a statement.

The Fund said it paid money into a bank account that was provided by Ulwembu Business Services, where Mashele worked. The financial institution where the account is held alerted the UIF to suspicious financial transactions of the COVID-19 TERS funds.

Preliminary investigations showed that the funds were spent on Mashele’s personal expenses.

The Fund opened a criminal case with the South African Police Service and handed over the file to the Fusion Centre for further investigation.

Acting UIF Commissioner, Advocate Mzie Yawa, said: “Our continuous collaboration with different organisation such as law enforcement agencies and financial institutions adds value and credibility to our investigations, leading to the apprehension of those who have defrauded the Fund.”

This was the third successful conviction of COVID-19 TERS related fraud.

The UIF said it is confident more arrests will follow, as 16 arrests have already been made by the police.

“The UIF has further identified 46 fraud cases through the ‘Follow the money’ project and we are confident more arrests will be made soon,” said Yawa.

The Fund has so far recovered R827 million through the Follow the money project, and it is anticipated that more will be recovered, as the Fund has extended the project with a further 12 months.