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12 Mar 2017

So. Africa: NGO lodges urgent court application on safeguarding of social grants beneficiaries; says Cash Paymaster Services has previously exploited the system & beneficiaries

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The Black Sash Trust, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) lodged an urgent application with the Constitutional Court, asking the court to, among other things, have oversight of a new agreement between South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and a private company contracted to administer social grants, Cash Paymaster Services (Pty) Ltd (CPS). More than 17 million people, including the elderly, children, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups, are on the social grants beneficiaries system.

The background to the case as given by Black Sash and CALS is that SASSA had contracted CPS in 2012 to administer the grant payments on government's behalf, but in 2013 the Constitutional Court had declared that contract invalid. The order of invalidity was suspended in April 2014 and, on November 5, 2015, SASSA told the Constitutional Court that it would not award a new contract. The Constitutional Court tasked the social development department with taking over payments by March this year. SASSA is however not ready to take over the payment of grants from CPS, and in February, CALS, representing Black Sash in the matter, said SASSA has no choice but to negotiate another contract with the current service provider, CPS. In the application, the Black Sash Trust wants the Constitutional Court to be made the gatekeeper on the terms of a new deal between SASSA and CPS, in order to prevent CPS from exploiting the grants system and its beneficiaries. It is alleged that personal data obtained from the grant payments system has been passed on to other service providers who have ended up making deductions from grant beneficiaries, in most cases without their express consent.