By Hassan Isilow

JOHANNESBURG

South Africa’s will begin an investigation into claims that employers have been claiming funds from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and not paying it to distressed employees, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Friday.

“We want to investigate this very closely and employers who have done this will find themselves in hot water with government on such an issue concerning livelihood of workers,” Ramaphosa told reporters during a visit to Mpumalanga’s province to assess its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government introduced a form of salary protection that uses the UIF to pay three months wages to workers who have forfeited salaries under COVID-19 lockdown.

Workers are paid between R3,500 ($205) and 6,700 ($394) every month. Ramaphosa said it is wrong for an employer to apply for the funds and refuse to pay it to workers for whom the are meant.

Once an investigation is instituted it will help follow the money trail and track whether COVID-19 financial relief is being distributed fairly to employees.

Local media reported last week that R5.7 million ($335,000) in UIF funds, intended for 200 workers effected by the COVID-19 lockdown, was paid to a single person. Several bank accounts have been frozen in connection with the fraudulent transaction.

South Africa has the highest number of COVID-19 infections on the continent with 177,124 cases and 2,952 deaths.

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