South Africa – Monday, December 18, 2023
A man has been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for defrauding the Unemployment Insurance Fund and unduly benefitting from the COVID-19 Temporary Employer/ Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) .
The man, Dennis Patrick Lerato Modika, was sentenced in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, after being found guilty on eight counts .
According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Modika submitted some 1 358 fictitious employee claims over a period of two years to the Department of Labour to benefit from the fund .
“The accused and his company did not have the declared employees in their employ and were therefore not entitled to apply for the relief fund .
The department paid an amount of over R5 million in total to a bank account which belonged to the accused .
“The accused was arrested on 10 July 2023 by the members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in a sting operation in Daveyton,” the NPA said .
TERS was designed by government to assist qualifying businesses that were affected by the national lockdown during the pandemic .
Employers were expected to submit applications to the scheme on behalf of employees and upon approval, were to pay a limited portion of salaries of those employees .
“In arguing for a harsh sentence, Senior State Advocate Frans Mhlongo argued that the court must impose a sentence that does not only reflect the looting of the UIF coffers but also the hardship and suffering imposed on the rightful recipients .
He further argued that the accused was only concerned with gratifying the fleeting pleasures of life than with the welfare of his compatriots .
“The NPA welcomes the sentence and applauds Adv .
Mhlongo and the Investigating Officer, Warrant Officer Siralile, for ensuring that the abuse of the much-needed relief fund did not go unpunished,” the NPA said .
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