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ConCourt reserves judgment in social grants legal battle

CPS has argued that it needs a contract in place with Sassa to ensure beneficiaries are paid on 1 April.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court has reserved judgment after hearing an application brought by non-governmental organisation Black Sash as concerns grow that social grants may not be paid on 1 April.

The South African 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.

The court heard the argument on Wednesday about the controversial Cash Paymaster Service (CPS) contract.

In 2014 the court declared the CPS contract invalid and it now expires at the end of March, with no alternative solution in place.

CPS has argued that it needs a contract in place with Sassa to ensure beneficiaries are paid on 1 April.

But the Constitutional Court justices say they can order Treasury to make funds available, meaning a contract is not necessary.

Sassa will agree to a new contract drafted by the court or an extension of the contract, as long as it is in place for at least 12 months to allow a bidding process to be completed.

The court is expected to hand down judgment, possibly this week, as the current CPS contract expires in less than a fortnight.

TAKE CONTROL

Mogoeng says Sassa should have taken control of the grants crisis three years ago.

The Chief Justice became visibly frustrated on Wednesday; he says Sassa should have been able to take over the payment system from CPS.

“This is a crisis; we must do whatever is necessary to intervene to avoid the proliferation of the crisis.”

Mogoeng says Sassa and Dlamini also should have approached the court sooner when they realised they couldn’t distribute social grants by the first of next month.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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