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CALS and Black Sash seek to appeal ruling on social grant deductions

- Lee-Anne Bruce

On Thursday 20 July 2017, the Black Sash Trust and six social grant beneficiaries, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, launched an application for leave to appeal with the Supreme Court of Appeal (under case number 752/2017).  They seek to appeal an earlier decision by the Gauteng Division of High Court, Pretoria. The decision, handed down on 9 May 2017, concerned an application brought by Net1 and some of its subsidiary companies Money Line, Manje Mobile, and SmartLife against the Minister of Social Development and SASSA. The application sought to challenge the interpretation of new Regulations issued by the Minister aimed at limiting deductions from social grants.

Black Sash and the grant beneficiaries sought to intervene in the application to ensure beneficiaries are protected from abuse and exploitation and to maintain the integrity of the social assistance system. We asked the High Court, if it found in favour of Net1 on their interpretation of the Regulations, to order that the Minister issue new Regulations which do protect grant beneficiaries. The High Court granted the application in favour of Net1 and dismissed the application by the Black Sash and social grant beneficiaries.

SASSA, the Minister of Social Development and Black Sash later sought leave to appeal this judgment believing that the Court’s decision left grant beneficiaries vulnerable. The leave to appeal application was heard on 20 June 2017 and was refused on the same day. In refusing the application, the Court found that there is no distinction between the social grant beneficiaries’ accounts held at Grindrod Bank and any other private bank account held at another bank; and that the Regulations do not operate to restrict beneficiaries in the operation of their bank account.

Following the decision refusing Black Sash and the social grant beneficiaries application to intervene on 9 May 2017 and the refusal of leave to appeal on 20 June 2017, Black Sash and social grant beneficiaries then approached the Supreme Court of Appeal on 20 July 2017.  Black Sash and the social grant beneficiaries submit in their petition to the SCA that their intervention application in the High Court was relevant and flowed directly from the decision that the High Court ultimately made in favour of Net1.  The other parties now have a period of one month to file answering affidavits.

“We remain steadfast in ensuring that social grant beneficiaries are protected and that the mearge means of livelihood is not depleted by deductions” says Lynette Maart, National Director of the Black Sash Trust. “We hope that the Supreme Court of Appeal will decide to hear our application for leave to appeal and grant the relief we request.”  Nomonde Nyembe, an attorney at CALS, says that “social grants are the means by which the constitutional right of access to social assistance is realised; any dimunition thereof must be subjected to constitutional scrutiny.”

For enquiries, please contact:

Centre for Applied Legal Studies

  • Nomonde Nyembe, Attorney
  • 011 717 8606

Black Sash Trust

  • Evashnee Naidu
  • Black Sash KZN Regional Manager           
  • 084 430 6133 / 031 301 9215