Most recipients unpaid after millions stolen from Guardian’s Fund
Justice Department has suspended officials allegedly involved in theft
- The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has suspended officials at its Guardian’s Fund after over R17-million was stolen in April.
- The Fund was created to manage money on behalf of people who are legally incapable or do not have the capacity to manage their own affairs.
- Over 2,600 beneficiaries who rely on the Fund are yet to be paid.
Fewer than half of the outstanding payments to beneficiaries of the Guardian’s Fund have been made, according to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
GroundUp previously reported that criminals had breached the systems of the department’s Fund and made off with over R17-million in April. Officials at the Fund have since been suspended for their possible involvement in the “fraudulent transactions”.
The Guardian’s Fund manages money on behalf of people who are legally incapable or do not have the capacity to manage their own affairs. This includes minors, unborn heirs and missing or absent people. The Fund is administered by the Master of the High Court with offices in Pretoria, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Kimberly and Makhanda.
The money in the Guardian’s Fund is invested with the Public Investment Corporation and audited annually.
On 23 June, the department confirmed that its Guardian’s Fund System (GFS) had been breached and over R17-million had been taken.
An investigation found that the GFS was breached internally by “certain officials”. These officials have since been placed on precautionary suspension pending finalisation of the investigation.
“We are pleased to inform the public that the department has obtained a preservation order for some of the stolen funds,” the department stated.
Department spokesperson Steve Mahlangu explained: “The money has been secured and no withdrawals may take place from the account … the money will no longer reach its intended fraudulent destination and will … be returned to the Guardian’s Fund.”
While Mahlangu initially told GroundUp that most of the beneficiaries would be paid by mid-June, this week he said 2,431 of the 5,035 outstanding payments had been processed. “The balance of the backlog was 2,604 as at Monday, 26 June 2023,” said Mahlangu.
One of the Fund’s beneficiaries, a 23-year-old from Pretoria who asked not to be named, said she was told that only the payments on their systems at the time of the theft are currently being processed.
“According to the person [I spoke to], my sister’s file and my file were not part of the files that were captured before the theft. [They] will start with those files from 3 July. The lady said that I must call again next week to follow up. I’m just glad that something is happening,” she said. Meanwhile the siblings have not been able to access their money.
So here I am, a mother who is struggling to raise my children. The money that the Guardian's Fund has for these children – by the way, money that my husband and I worked for – is now stolen. Money that was supposed to be kept safe. Money that I cannot be given because I am supposedly going to "squander" it (on my own children, I might add). Why does a third party get to decide what happens to the money that my husband and I worked for just because there wasn't a will? The money is there but here I am struggling to put these kids through school. This stupid law does not make any sense! I'm frustrated!
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