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13 fiery quotes from the ConCourt Sassa grants battle

The Constitutional Court reserved judgment after a day of argument over who was to blame and what should be done.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng defends a speech he gave in Stellenbosch last week about religion and the law during a news conference in Johannesburg on 4 June 2014. Picture: Sapa.

The Constitutional Court has reserved judgment after hearing an application brought by non-governmental organisation Black Sash over the social grants crisis in South Africa.

The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Minister Bathabile Dlamini want the deal to be monitored by the Public Protector and Auditor-General, while Black Sash wants the court to provide the oversight role.

Here are a few memorable quotes from Wednesday's court hearing:

“The consequences [if the social grants crisis continues] could be more catastrophic than we have the capacity to imagine.”
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng

“[Minister Dlamini] should have been embarrassed and spent sleepless nights working to rectify this."
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng

“Let's cut to the chase. Your client wants more money; is that not what it really is?”
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to Advocate Alfred Cockrell SC, representing CPS

“My client says that if it were not for the constitutional obligation‚ it would not continue after the 1st of April … [CPS] understands it can’t just walk away if there is no one to provide the service.”
Advocate Alfred Cockrell SC, representing CPS

"How do you get to the level where [your clients] make themselves look like they are incompetent and you can't even explain how you got to this point? … How did we get to this level that can be characterised as absolute incompetence?”
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to Advocate Andrew Breitenbach SC, representing Sassa and the Social Development Minister

“I cannot enlighten you why the minister did not do her job.”
Advocate Andrew Breitenbach SC, representing Sassa and the Social Development Minister

"The painful truth is that the executive failed to meet its obligations... And the painful truth is that parliament has failed to exercise oversight."
Advocate Geoff Budlender SC, representing Black Sash

"One seeks in vain [from] the minister [the details] of what she did‚ why she did it ‚ what she knew and why she did what she did."
Advocate Geoff Budlender SC, representing Black Sash, on Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini

“My client has seen that movie and it's not trying to see it again."
Advocate Alfred Cockrell SC, representing CPS on a potentially invalid social grants contract

“It sounds like [the minister] sat idly by and waited to be informed; why did she sit and wait to be informed? … One expects that the minister would have had her finger on the pulse."
Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga

“This is a crisis. We must do whatever it can to intervene to ensure that we don't proliferate the crisis.”
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng

"We are submitting that there is a crisis in this country and this crisis needs to be dealt with. SAPO & the Post Bank are able to provide the service in a period of a month … SAPO is waiting in the wings.”
Advocate Aslam Bava SC, representing the Post Office

“The bid process [was] particularly concerning. Was there constructive contempt of this court, or merely gross incompetence?"
Advocate Carol Steinberg, representing Corruption Watch

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