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SASSA Back in the Constitutional Court One Year Later

- Lee-Anne Bruce

It has been nearly a year since CALS and Black Sash approached the Constitutional Court to avoid a national crisis in the social grants system

We will be back in Court tomorrow once again to ensure there is a plan in place for the uninterrupted payment of social grants come April 2018. 

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies, on behalf of the Black Sash Trust, will be in the Constitutional Court tomorrow to ensure that the social grants system and its beneficiaries are protected when the unlawful contract between SASSA and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) comes to an end later this month.

The Court previously declared the contract invalid, but suspended its declaration of invalidity to ensure there was no disruption in the payment of social grants. The Court extended this suspension and the unlawful contract again in March 2017 to give SASSA time to take over the payment of social grants from CPS. SASSA has now applied to the Constitutional Court for a further six month extension for CPS to continue to provide payments – but only to grant beneficiaries who receive cash. This extension will also allow time to migrate the SASSA bank accounts to the South African Post Office.

The Black Sash, represented by CALS, is unable to oppose this application given the significant risk posed to grant beneficiaries. However, we will be arguing that:

  1. SASSA has placed insufficient information before the Court for the relief they seek;
  2. SASSA’s proposed plan has inadequate safeguards for protecting beneficiaries’ personal data which leaves them vulnerable to exploitation;
  3. There is no justification to pay CPS any additional fees for fulfilling its constitutional obligations;
  4. The Court should extend its supervisory role in the matter.

“SASSA has known since at least 18 December 2017 that it would require a CPS cash payment extension,” says Wandisa Phama, attorney at CALS. “It delayed for nearly eight weeks before bringing this application. The conduct of SASSA is unexplained. The silence of the Minister of Social Development is deafening.”

“We remain deeply concerned that the payment of grants to over 17 million beneficiaries will be compromised due to SASSA’s failures,” says Lynette Maart, national director of the Black Sash Trust. “Black Sash is also calling for unlawful deductions on social grants to cease and for a moratorium to be placed on issuing Easy Pay Everywhere (EPE) cards.”

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From the Centre for Applied Legal Studies:

From the Black Sash Trust: