26 March 2018
On Friday 23 March 2018, the Constitutional Court handed down judgment following an application made by SASSA for a six month extension of the CPS contract to facilitate the payment of social grants to beneficiaries who receive their grants in cash. This matter was heard on 6 March 2018. This comes nearly a year after CALS and the Black Sash approached the Constitutional Court to avoid a national crisis in the social grants system, as SASSA had provided no plans to take over the payment of social grants from the invalid CPS contract.
On Friday 23 March 2018, the Constitutional Court allowed for a further six month extension of the contract under its supervision and on the same conditions as the current contract. The Minister of Social Development and SASSA are to file reports on a monthly basis with the Constitutional Court from 30 April 2018 to 31 August 2018 on the steps taken to implement the court order.
This extension of the CPS contract only relates to cash payments for about 2.8 million social grants beneficiaries who receive their social grants in cash. SASSA is also ordered to ensure the protection of the personal data of grants beneficiaries during this extension, which has been a challenge for grants beneficiaries under the CPS contract.
The Constitutional Court has further called on the former Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini as well as the acting CEO of SASSA Ms Pearl Bhengu to file written affidavits with the court by no later than 16 April 2018, to show cause as to why they should not be joined in the matter in their personal capacities and why they should not be held personally liable to pay costs of the application brought by SASSA.
It is not the first time the Constitutional Court has invited Minister Dlamini to show cause for why she should not be held personally liable for her role in the social grants crisis. She is still subject to an inquiry handled by Judge Ngoepe which is aimed to assist the Constitutional Court to decide her personal liability, if any, for her role in the social grants in March 2017.
“The order for the former Minister and acting CEO to show cause on why they should not be joined in this matter in their personal capacities and be held personally liable to pay the costs shows the seriousness with which the court is handling the social grants crisis” says Wandisa Phama, attorney at CALS.
“Following the legacy of Minister Bathabile Dlamini in the social grants system, SASSA doesn’t seem to be moving urgently enough to restore stability in the grants payment system. It is also unclear what plans Ms Bhengu as the acting CEO is setting up in order to take over the cash payments from CPS after this six month period. Therefore with no proper planning in a situation like this, someone must be held accountable,” Phama added.
“Black Sash welcomes the measures that the Constitutional Court is putting in place to ensure the protection of personal data of grants beneficiaries,” says Lynette Maart, national director of the Black Sash Trust.
For inquiries, please contact:
From the Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Wandisa Phama, Attorney
078 684 3140 / 011 717 8608
Akhona Mehlo, Attorney
081 550 7997 / 011 717 8606
From the Black Sash Trust
Black Sash National Advocacy Manager
072 252 0333 / 021 686 6952
083 397 2512