I paid 1000 to get my grant
It seems that there are also problems of disability grant corruption in the Western Cape. Rumours are circulating in the Khayelitsha community that some health care professionals are selling disability grants at local clinics in the Makhaza area. This week GroundUp spoke with Thobile Bhungane, 45, (not his real name) who revealed how he got his disability grant by bribing a social worker and clinic staff member.
“I have been living HIV for quite some time (since 2003) and at times I have been sick to a point where I couldn't even work. I was however never offered a grant at the hospital, so I asked my doctor, 'How come I don’t get a grant?’ My doctor told me that I wasn't sick enough and that there are people who are really in need of it who are worse-off than me."
When asked how he felt when the doctor told him that he didn't qualify for a grant Bhungane said, “This is when I decided to buy my grant. I got a 'connection' from someone inside the clinic and she told me that I would have to pay R1000 for someone working in the clinic to take medical information from someone else's folder and make it mine”.
Bhungane paid the R1000 and on his next appointment he met with a different doctor. Bhungane asked about a grant again and this time he was given a letter to go to SASSA to apply for a grant. Bhungane has also connected a few people to this illegal service, giving people the contact numbers of the woman who helped him.
He refused to share these details with us, scared that if this person was charged with corruption that he might end up losing his grant.
Bhungane said he bought his grant at Matthew Goniwe Community Health Clinic in Makhaza, Khayelitsha. We tried several times to contact Matthew Goniwe clinic, but they were not reachable for comment.
“I was told to keep this a secret because the deal was illegal. I promised to keep my mouth shut and I beg you GroundUp not to reveal my identity, said Bhunga.
SASSA has repeatedly pledged to fight corruption within the social grant system and the Special Investigation Unit was mandated to investigate the administration of grants by Proclamation R18 in 2005 and further extended by Proclamation R5 of 2007 and proclamation R27 of 2010. In 2012 SASSA began a re-registration process and introduced a biometric system in an attempt to combat ongoing high levels of fraud and corruption in the system.
However, with high rates of unemployment and no social assistance available to the chronically ill or the general long-term unemployed, many people like Bhungane who are struggling to support themselves financially are encouraged to access the system through illegitimate means.
Cases of grant fraud can be reported to SASSA's toll-free fraud and corruption line: 0800 011 601