Four appear in court for TERS fraud

  • Four individuals have appeared in court on allegations of TERS fraud.
  • The accused are said to have applied for TERS benefits multiple times and applied for payouts for employees who hadn’t worked at the company for years.
  • TERS was set up to help employers and employees during the pandemic but by 2021 there had been over 100 reports of fraud and corruption related to the system.

During the pandemic the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) was implemented to help businesses keep employees on the payroll without negatively impacting the business. However, as with most things, some took advantage of the system.

This week the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has welcomed the court appearance of four people accused of claiming benefits not due to them. The four accused are Nomvuzo Melody Kupiso, Tlotliso Molaba, Lehlohonolo Class Motaung and Lelokonyana Isak Letseng.

The allegations state that in the case of Molaba, Motaung and Letseng, the trio applied for TERS benefits twice through their companies Afrikhan Source (Molaba and Motaung’s company) and Izuz Gibbor (Letseng’s company). It is reported that the UIF – which oversaw TERS – paid Afrikhan Source and Izuz Gibbor R1 396 053.40 and R101 555.92 respectively.

Meanwhile, Kupiso is accused of forging proof of payments that say employees received a TERS benefit. However, those employees hadn’t worked at Kupiso’s company Khayathi since 2015. The accused received R216 905.95 in payments from the UIF.

“On 23 January 2024, the SIU referred the matter to the relevant prosecuting authority. On 18 April 2024, Kupiso was arrested and appeared on the same day before the King Wiliams Magistrates Court, Eastern Cape, on fraud, forgery, and uttering allegations. Kupiso was released on R1 500 bail,” the SIU said in a statement.

As regards the other three accused, the SIU said, “The SIU referred the matter to the prosecuting authority. The suspects were arrested in Bloemfontein and Phuthaditjhaba, Free State, on 25 April 2024. They were granted R10 000 bail each and the matter has been postponed to 11 June 2024.”

In 2021 Corruption Watch reported there had been over 100 reports of corruption relating to TERS.

“Most of the allegations reported to CW referred to employers either registering employees for TERS but not paying the employees when the pay-outs arrived, or companies claiming on behalf of the employees but giving them only a fraction of the money due to them. Certain unscrupulous companies gave the pay-outs to employees as loans that their staff would have to pay back,” the organisation wrote.

While the appearance in court of four individuals is welcomed, given that it has been years since TERS ended, this is yet another display of how slow authorities are to take action when there are accusations of fraud and corruption.


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