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Jugde Bernard Ngoepe to oversee Sassa debacle inquiry

Earlier this year, the court ruled that it cannot determine whether Dlamini should be held personally liable for costs related to the case brought against her.

 Judge Bernard Ngoepe will oversee the inquiry into the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) social grants debacle. Picture: Twitter/@TaxOmbud

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court has appointed Judge Bernard Ngoepe to oversee the inquiry into the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) social grants debacle at which it wants Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to testify.

Earlier this year, the court ruled that it cannot determine whether Dlamini should be held personally liable for costs related to the case brought against her and the department by civil rights groups, including Black Sash and Freedom Under Law.

The groups raised concern about government's handling of a controversial payments contract with Cash Paymaster Services.

The Constitutional Court ruled the agreement could stand for a period of only 12 months and also ordered a probe into the matter.

The inquiry into the Sassa payment scandal has a referee now that Judge Ngoepe has been appointed to oversee the process.

But there's no word yet on when it will go ahead.

The Constitutional Court has ordered Ngoepe to investigate the reasons behind Dlamini's decision to implement multi-million rand work stream contracts.

Former CEO Thokozani Magwaza cancelled those agreements.

Last month, Magwaza's contract was terminated and no concrete reasons were given for his abrupt departure.

The minister blamed Sassa officials for the grants crisis but Magwaza and former director-general Zane Dangor disputed her version of events.

The inquiry will look into these matters and whether Dlamini should pay the legal costs, with the court asking that the minister should commence with giving oral evidence.

(Edited by Zinhle Nkosi)