The Black Sash Trust, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), will be in the Constitutional Court today to ensure that recipients of social grants and its system are “protected when the unlawful contract between South African Social Services Agency (Sassa) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) comes to an end later this month”.
In 2014, the same court declared the contract between CPS and Sassa invalid. However, the declaration of invalidity was suspended by the court so that the payment of social grants would not be disrupted.
In March 2017, the court extended the suspension and “invalid” contract to grant Sassa sufficient time to take over the payment of social grants.
The agency has applied for a further six-month extension of the CPS contract, but only to provide payments to grant beneficiaries who receive cash.
On its website, Black Sash states that due to the risk posed to grant recipients, it will not oppose the application.
However, the organisation said it would be arguing that:
- Sassa has placed insufficient information before the court for the relief they seek;
- Sassa’s proposed plan has inadequate safeguards for protecting beneficiaries’ personal data, which leaves them vulnerable to exploitation;
- There is no justification to pay CPS any additional fees for fulfilling its constitutional obligations;
- 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,” said 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,” she added.
“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, the 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,” she said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa recently appointed Susan Shabangu as the minister of social development, replacing Bathabile Dlamini in the recent cabinet reshuffle.
Dlamini was recently the face behind the nonpayment of social grants due to contract issues with the pay provider.