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CALS welcomes Constitutional Court judgment on social grants

- Lee-Anne Bruce

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at Wits University welcomes today’s triumphant and historic judgment by the Constitutional Court. CALS represented the Black Sash Trust in launching this case against the Minister of Social Development, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) in an effort to ensure that the social grant system and its beneficiaries are protected.

The judgment confirms the importance of the constitutional right to social assistance, stating that

“[o]ne of the signature achievements of our constitutional democracy is the establishment of an inclusive and effective programme of social assistance... This judgment is, however, not an occasion to celebrate this achievement. To the contrary, it is necessitated by the extraordinary conduct of the Minister of Social Development and of the South African Social Security Agency that have placed that achievement in jeopardy.”

Today’s judgment granted all the relief we sought. It confirms the crucial role that civil society can, and must, play in holding both government and the private sector to account. In this historic moment, the Black Sash and CALS ensured that all parties were compelled to come to Court, resulting in a victory for the 17 million grant beneficiaries. 

The Court ordered that:

  • CPS has a constitutional obligation to continue to pay grants for another 12 months without raising its fees;
  • During this period, SASSA and the Minister must develop a plan for the payment of grants beyond the 12 month period;
  • SASSA and the Minister must report to the court on progress it is making every three months;
  • Grant beneficiaries’ personal data should be protected; and
  • Minister must explain to the Court before the end of the month why she should not pay the costs of the application “out of her own pocket.”

This judgment is a victory not only for the protection it provides to the 17 million grant beneficiaries, but also for South Africa as a whole, which continues to see a robust judiciary protecting human rights.

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