South African Social Security Agency looks to biometrics to reduce fraud and corruption

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is looking to introduce a workforce management system in an attempt to limit fraud and corruption.

Reported first in BDlive, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini made the assertion that the agency is planning this implementation on Tuesday.

“We’ll be introducing a biometric system for all employees, we think it will go a long way in reducing corruption,” Dlamini said.

Currently, there is a pending court battle over the distribution of social grants, as a long-time vendor which was responsible for the distribution of social grants recently lost the contract to a new company and wants to see the tender process restarted.  According to the report, the vendor claimed that the tender was awarded illegally and that a member of the evaluation committee interfered with the process.

According to the minister, in the current financial year, Sassa has lost US$6.35 million (R59m) through fraud and has only been able to recover US$118, 417 (R1.1m). Since 2010, the agency has been losing an average of $US5 million (r50m) per year to fraud.

In a recent bust, 47 Sassa employees were arrested, five were suspended and one entire service center had been shut down. According to the report, some employees even went as far as stealing social grant machines and using them to forge cards and sell them on the black market.

Biometric systems are being rapidly deployed in South Africa as of late. Reported in BiometricUpdate.com, South Africans will be using new smart ID cards in place of the existing green identity books and it’s possible the ID cards could be in use by the next general election.

Also, The South African Department of Basic Education has recently outlined plans to introduce a biometric attendance system, meant to ensure the attendance of teachers. The project, believed to be the biggest of its kind, is set to be active in 2015.

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