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CALS and Black Sash note latest Con Court judgment in SASSA case

- Lee-Anne Bruce

Today's judgment provides reasons the Court granted an extension of the CPS contract and awards costs against SASSA and its CEO in her official capacity

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies and the Black Sash Trust note today's Constitutional Court judgment on social grants. This follows its order from 23 March this year when the Court extended the contract for cash payments of social grants by CPS. Today’s judgment provides reasons for this order and awards costs for the application against SASSA and its CEO in her official capacity.

Today, the Constitutional Court handed down judgment in a matter brought by the South African Social Security Agency and its CEO. The application requested a six month extension to the unlawful contract with Cash Paymaster Services to pay social grants – but only to grant beneficiaries who receive cash payments.

On 23 March, the Court granted this extension and reserved judgment on costs for the application. Today’s judgment provides reasons for the Court’s earlier ruling and orders that SASSA and its CEO must pay the costs of the application.

CALS and the Black Sash Trust welcome the judgment, which explains that the extension was granted in order to ensure beneficiaries would not face harm and would continue to receive their grants. At paragraph 32, the judgment states, “the recipients of grants would be seriously prejudiced by the failure to extend. Approximately 2.8 million recipients could have been affected. These people would not have received their grants if a further suspension of the invalidity was not granted. These are poor people with virtually no income for daily financial needs except the grants they receive from SASSA.”

The Court makes clear that the urgency of the application was “self-created” and due to a “lack of diligence on the part of SASSA in relation to its preparation for the transition on payment of social grants”. The judgment therefore orders SASSA and its CEO in her official capacity to pay the costs of the application.

“We welcome the Court’s acknowledgement of the need to protect social grant beneficiaries,” says Lynette Maart, national director of the Black Sash Trust. “We will continue to monitor the payment of beneficiaries during the handover with the Post Office and the closure of pay points.”

“The Court has played an essential role in the oversight of SASSA along with the Panel of Experts led by the Auditor General,” says Wandisa Phama, attorney at CALS. “This is part of ongoing litigation we have instituted in an effort to protect social grants and ensure beneficiaries receive their payments in full and on time.”

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