Fraud case opened against Cape NPO for getting nearly R5m from Covid-19 Ters scheme, Newsline

Cape Town – A case of fraud has been opened against a Western Cape non-profit organisation (NPO) for illegally applying for, and receiving, nearly R5 million for the Covid-19 Ters scheme, the UIF’s provincial chief inspector David Esau has said.

The NPO at the centre of the fraud is Uniondale Integrated Empowerment Project (Uniep) an NPO contracted by the Department of Public Works to perform Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) projects in the small agricultural town of Uniondale, about 70km from George.

Esau said: “This case came about when the department received and responded to a complaint about an employer in Uniondale who claimed for Ters funds on behalf of 520 employees even though their contract of employment was terminated on March 25.

“Not only did the Uniep, which employs approximately 520 workers, apply illegally for the funds, but they also kept part of the proceeds in the name of bank charges, which meant that the employer benefited illegally to the tune of R96 000,” said Esau.

“The inspectorate established that R4.7m was paid out to the employer in Ters money. The matter will now be registered with the Oudtshoorn police as a fraud case because the employer declared that the employees are receiving reduced salaries and are still employed, even though the department can confirm that the contracts of the employees were terminated in March.”

The DA’s Western Cape spokesperson on Social Development, Gillion Bosman, said: “It is important for all NPOs in the Western Cape to adhere to the legislation and the letter of the law. I look forward to the outcome of the investigation and the subsequent inquiry by police.

“As the legislature, we will also do our part to maintain oversight and ensure that NPOs comply, but more needs to be done to ensure that provincial governments are involved in the registration, monitoring and evaluation of NPOs as it is currently a national function, with provincial governments only having oversight over NPOs that they fund,” said Bosman.

Public works standing committee member Brett Herron said: “It is very disappointing that the Ters benefit is allegedly being abused and defrauded by a so-called NPO.

“We associate non-profit organisations with good selfless community work. When they conduct themselves out of self-interest and steal public funds, they break our trust and damage the good work so many non-profits are doing across our country selflessly for the benefit of communities in need,” said Herron.

Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) spokesperson Jandré Bakker said: “The DTPW strongly condemns all fraud and corruption. NPOs are appointed on Community Works Programmes by the national department… Our department is therefore not involved.”

Cape Argus