[WATCH] 'CPS has a constitutional obligation to administer social grants'

Black Sash is urgently applying to the Constitutional Court, asking it to play an oversight role in the payment of SASSA grants.

FILE: The Constitutional Court. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN

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

Sassa and Minister Bathabile Dlamini will argue for the deal to be monitored by the Public Protector and Auditor-General, while the Black Sash wants the court to provide the oversight role.

WATCH: Proceedings in the Constitutional Court

In 2014, the court declared the current contract with CPS, which expires in just over two weeks, invalid. The court has now asked the South African Social Security Agency and the minister to explain why measures weren't put in place after the ruling.

They missed the 4pm deadline to file their papers to the court on Monday but sent through their answers to pointed questions later that night.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng asked Sassa and Minister Dlamini to file affidavits by 3pm on Tuesday to explain why they didn't comply with the court's order on Monday. They did file their affidavits but missed the deadline by 11 minutes.

In her affidavit, Dlamini says she made every reasonable effort to comply with the court's direction - referring to her lawyer's condonation for further details.

Earlier, the Social Development Minister had told Parliament there was no crisis at Sassa and accused opposition parties of deliberately trying to confuse South Africans and undermine the African National Congress.

In court papers, Sassa admits that it knew in April 2016 that it wouldn't be able to take over the payment process from CPS.

On Wednesday, Sassa and the Social Development Minister will present their cases. Ultimately they want to convince the court that an interim contract with CPS is the only feasible solution at this stage to ensure grants can be paid.

The justices are expected to ask a number of questions, including why other options weren't explored, why the agency didn't inform the court that it couldn’t take over from CPS and what agreement has been made with CPS going forward.

At the same time, Black Sash brings its application to the court on Wednesday in the public interest and in the interests of all grant beneficiaries to seek reinstatement of the oversight role of the Constitutional Court for the payment of social grants.

Black Sash wants Sassa to comply with its constitutional obligations to provide social assistance in a lawful manner that is in line with constitutional rights and values.

Freedom Under Law has also lodged an application for leave to intervene as a second applicant.

It seeks to make submissions and obtain relief aimed at further disciplining the process of the proposed interim contractual arrangement between CPS, the minister and Sassa.

Corruption Watch and the South African Post Office have filed applications to be admitted as friends of the court - the Post Office claims that it can take over the payment process from CPS, although Sassa and the minister dismissed this option.