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

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.

 

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Article
3 April 2017

So. Africa: Constitutional Court rules Cash Paymaster Services must continue administering social grants for vulnerable people, protect their personal data

Author: Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), Univ. of the Witwatersrand (So. Africa)

CALS welcomes Constitutional Court judgment on social grants, 17 Mar 2017

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at Wits University welcomes today’s triumphant and historic judgment by the Constitutional Court. CALS represented the Black Sash Trust in launching this case against the Minister of Social Development, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) in an effort to ensure that the social grant system and its beneficiaries are protected... Today’s judgment granted all the relief we sought...[and was] a victory for the 17 million grant beneficiaries. 

The Court ordered that:

  • CPS has a constitutional obligation to continue to pay grants for another 12 months without raising its fees;...
  • Grant beneficiaries’ personal data should be protected;...

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Lawsuit
19 March 2017

Judgement: Black Sash Trust v Cash Paymaster Services & others

Author: Constitutional Court of South Africa

It is declared that the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and Cash Paymaster Services (Pty) Limited (CPS) are under a constitutional obligation to ensure payment of social grants to grant beneficiaries from 1 April 2017 until an entity other than CPS is able to do so and that a failure to do so will infringe upon grant beneficiaries’ rights of access to social assistance under section 27(1)(c) of the Constitution...SASSA and CPS are directed to ensure payment of social grants to grant beneficiaries from 1 April 2017, for a period of 12 months, on the same terms and conditions as those in the current contract between them that will expire on 31 March 2017, subject to these further conditions: The terms and conditions shall:

(a) contain adequate safeguards to ensure that personal data obtained in the payment process remains private and may not be used for any purpose other than payment of the grants or any other purpose sanctioned by the Minister in terms of section 20(3) and (4) of the Social Assistance Act 13 of 2004; and
(b) preclude anyone from inviting beneficiaries to “opt-in” to the sharing of confidential information for the marketing of goods and services...

 

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Article
13 March 2017

Constitutional Court sets date for NGO's application on protection of grants system and beneficiaries; NGO says company must not exploit grant system & beneficiaries

Author: James de Villiers, News24 (South Africa)

"Sassa crisis: Date set for Constitutional Court application", 3 March 2017

The Constitutional Court application by NGO Black Sash, to ensure grant beneficiaries will be protected come April 1, will be heard on March 15...In April 2014, the Constitutional Court tasked the social development department with taking over payments by March this year, after it was found that there were irregularities in the appointment of Cash Paymaster Services who distributed the grants..."Yes, the court case will take place on 15 March," Bonita Meyersfeld from the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) told News24..."The Black Sash Trust, is asking the court to ensure that the continued relationship with CPS is based on terms not harmful to, exploitative of, the grant system, its beneficiaries; the personal data of beneficiaries is owned by Sassa; and such data is kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes targeting grant beneficiaries," it said in a statement...

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Lawsuit
13 March 2017

Court Application: Black Sash v SASSA, CPS & others

Author: The Black Sash Trust, represented by Centre for Applied Legal Studies

This is an urgent application for direct access, in the public interest, and in the interest of all grant beneficiaries, most of whom are unable to litigate themselves, to seek re-instatement of the Court for the payment of social grants in order:...for this court to have oversight over the further/new proposed contract between SASSA and CPS [Cash Paymaster Services (Pty) Ltd] for payment of social grants before it is fait accompli…to protect the grant beneficiaries from the harmful practices by, among others, CPS…The Black Sash brings this application to ensure that SASSA complies with its Constitutional obligations to provide social assistance, and to do so in a lawful manner, and to protect grant beneficiaries form unlawful depletion of their grants…given the situation SASSA has created, the Court should compel SASSA   and CPS to enter into a contract on terms designed to protect grant beneficiaries…

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Lawsuit
13 March 2017

Founding Affidavit: Black Sash v South Africa Social Security Agency, Cash Paymasters Services, Information Regulatory Agency & others

Author: Centre for Applied Legal Studies & Black Sash Trust (South Africa)

...The Black Sash Trust (Applicant), hereby applies for orders in the following terms...the South African Social Security Agency ("SASSA") is forthwith to file with the Court a report on affidavit in which it states how it proposes to award an "interim" contracts with Sash Paymasters Services (Pty) Ltd ("CPS") or any other person for payment of social grants after 31 March 2017 in a lawful manner...It is declared that CPS is under a duty to act reasonable, with due regard to its constitutional obligations arising from history of this matter...

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Item
8 March 2017

Press statement: The Black Sash Trust & Centre for Applied Legal Studies on court application over protection of social grants system and beneficiaries

Author: Centre for Applied Legal Studies & The Black Sash Trust (South Africa)

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies, on behalf of the Black Sash Trust, is...launching an application to the Constitutional Court. The application asks the Court to compel the Minister of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to take necessary measures to ensure that the social grants system and its beneficiaries are protected when the contract between SASSA and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) comes to an end on 31 March 2017...The Black Sash Trust therefore is asking the Court to ensure that:

  • the continued relationship with CPS is based on terms not harmful to, or exploitative of, the grant system and its beneficiaries;
  • the personal data of beneficiaries is owned by SASSA; and
  • such data is kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes targeting grant beneficiaries

We can only hope to avoid more harm by ensuring that the contract going forward is not negotiated on terms only favourable to CPS and instead protects the constitutional rights of the people it is meant to benefit.

 

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