The Department of Employment and Labour has announced that it is widening its investigation into the R219 million COVID TERS payments made to the Eastern Cape Transport Tertiary Co-operative (ECTCC).
This follows complaints from taxi drivers in Gqeberha, who recently claimed to have never received benefits claimed on their behalf.
In a statement, the department on Thursday said this was determined after a follow-up meeting with taxi drivers, taxi associations, the regional leadership of South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) and the ECTCC.
“During the meeting, the Unemployment Insurance Fund revealed that it has paid up to R219 million from claims received from the ECTCC, which were submitted on behalf of 62 employers, including taxi associations,” the department said.
The meeting was organised by Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality executive Mayor, Nqaba Bhanga.
Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) ICT Business Development Deputy Director, Viwe Gqoli, in the meeting revealed that the ECTCC initially submitted six COVID TERS [Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme] claims covering 4 089 employees. Almost R20 million was consequently paid.
“In Gqeberha, we paid a total of R23 778 937.29 to Port Elizabeth & District Taxi Association and Uncedo Transport and Business Taxi Association, covering 5 472 taxi drivers. A total of 62 COVID TERS claims submitted on behalf of various employers by ECTCC were paid to the tune of R219 million and these payments covered 48 441 employees”, said Gqoli.
The UIF informed the meeting that it had blocked further payments to the ECTCC due to ongoing investigations.
“ECTCC appealed to the department to unblock the outstanding payments and consider re-opening the TERS system for them to lodge further claims.
“The department informed the meeting that law enforcement agencies have been roped in to assist with the probe into the matter and until that is finalised, no further payments can be made to ECTCC,” the department said.
It said it was committed to efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability in the taxi industry in the Nelson Mandela Metro and is prepared to work with all stakeholders to prevent further taxi protests in affected municipalities in the Eastern Cape.–SAnews