Maintenance beneficiaries urged to get bank accounts

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pretoria - The Department of Justice is urging beneficiaries of maintenance monies to obtain bank accounts so that they can receive the money due to them faster.

The department's Director-General Nonkululeko Sindane said that in order to enhance service delivery, the department initiated a court level electronic payment system where beneficiaries are now receiving the maintenance monies directly into bank accounts.

This system has been deployed in 135 courts and 102 000 beneficiaries are now receiving their monies within 24 to 48 hours after identification of deposits within the Third Party Funds.

The department aims to implement the court level electronic payment system to at least 200 courts in the current financial year, she added.

With about 250 000 beneficiaries across the country, Sindane called on more beneficiaries to obtain bank accounts, saying doing so would benefit both the department and those receiving the money.

Paying money directly into bank accounts will free up the department's officials who have to pay out the cash in cash halls; eliminate the need for beneficiaries to queue at the courts; and cut down the waiting time for the money from about seven days to just a day or two, she said.

On Tuesday, the department gave a progress report on the developments and achievements in the management of Third Party Funds (TPF) to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

TPF, commonly known as Monies in Trust, is the collection and management of maintenance monies received on behalf of beneficiaries, court fines, bail and all other monies paid into the 474 courts and 11 state attorney offices across the country.

The department manages annual receipts of approximately R3 billion, the majority of which are monthly maintenance payments.

Briefing the media afterward, Sindane said some time ago the department initiated a turn-around strategy to improve accountability on the TPF which includes the presentation of credible financial statements.

The department's priority is to pay maintenance timeously and accurately to the beneficiaries who are generally minor children and people living with disabilities, she said.

The aim of the service delivery improvements was to ensure that people spent less time in queues in the courts and that the department contributes towards poverty alleviation.

The department was also in the process of cleaning out unclassified accounts - where monies were paid into the account and no proper reference was given, making it difficult to pay out that money to the intended recipient.

Unclassified accounts created the opportunity for fraud and corruption, and created a delay in people receiving the money, Sindane said.

She stressed that the department was committed to dealing with incidents of misappropriation of funds.

In the 2011/2012 financial year the department investigated 68 cases of fraud and corruption involving R2.6 million, and managed to recover R2.1 million, she added.

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