... and two case files of Sassa's corruption chaos
In both cases, the vanished files would have proved or disproved whether a crime indeed took place
Case study 1
For more than a year, Nolufefe Mbombo joined a monthly supermarket queue for a social grant even though she was earning more than R500,000 as an ANC councillor in Cape Town.
It was only after a cashier recognised her and blew the whistle that the city council and investigators at the South African Social Security Agency found out the 49-year-old from Atlantis had not declared her child support and disability grants when she was elected in August 2016.
Mbombo received her last grant of R2,360 last October, when the National Prosecuting Authority’s Special Investigating Unit alerted the Sassa fraud unit in Bellville to her activities.
Sassa spokesperson Shivani Wahab said Sassa’s investigation of Mbombo had been finalised and the councillor had signed an acknowledgment of debt and was paying back the money. “The matter is in the process of being handed over to the SAPS for further action,” she said.
One of Mbombo’s fellow ANC councillors told Times Select, on condition of anonymity, that councillors elected in 2016 received extensive sensitisation courses on the seriousness of declaring all their forms of income, especially state grants.
More than a year after her wrongdoing was detected, the police are yet to receive a complaint, and whistle-blowers in the Sassa fraud unit said management’s “lax approach” to Mbombo’s case was the tip of the iceberg. They said theft of sensitive information, mismanagement and victimisation of staff had brought unit investigations to a halt.
Mbombo did not respond to questions sent on WhatsApp and e-mail, and did not answer numerous calls to her cellphone number listed on the city council website.
Council speaker Dirk Smit said that according to the city the matter was concluded.
Case study 2
One of the suspects in a fraud case that was being investigated by the unit, Thalita Lubambo, has laid criminal complaints of intimidation against Sassa fraud unit investigators.
The 43-year-old from Nyanga told police the investigators allegedly tried to force her to depose an affidavit in which she admitted receiving grants for two non-existent children born in 2002 and 2000.
Sources in the fraud unit said Lubambo and two other individuals originally admitted in affidavits that they had been receiving grants for ghost children, but after files were stolen from a locked drawer with no signs of forced entry their stories changed.
When contacted by Times Select, Lubambo denied having ever written any affidavit. She also denied having ever received a Sassa grant, although it was put to her that child grants amounting to R320 a month were paid into an account on Sassa’s system bearing her name, ID number and address.
She said Sassa needed to investigate why fraud was committed in her name. “They never came back to me. The police told me that my intimidation case has been withdrawn,” she said.
The Sassa system shows the last payment received in Lubambo's name was in February 2004.
Sassa spokesperson Shivani Wahab confirmed that the affidavits formed part of the files that were stolen.