"Social justice and human rights group Black Sash has welcomed the announcement that a deal has been struck between the SA Post Office and the SA Social Security Agency for a grant payment system.

Black Sash has for years been taking up the beneficiaries’ fight for grant protection and campaigns to stop unauthorised deductions. Black Sash Gauteng manager Thandiwe Zulu said yesterday while they welcomed the news, they would keep a watchful eye on the process."

Read More: https://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/news/black-sash-lauds-social-grants-payment-deal-12359744

8 May 2017

Judgement in the four court cases in the matter between Net 1 Applied Technologies (PTY) LTD against the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), the Department of Social Development (DSD) and others will be handed down at 10h00 on Tuesday 9 May 2017 at the North Gauteng High Court in Room 8B.

Background

In May 2016, Department of Social Development published Regulations to the Social Assistance Act to stop deductions from the SASSA payment mechanism. The Regulations were challenged by Net1, its subsidiaries and other commercial allies. These companies argued that the SASSA bank account should not be restricted, in other words, that deductions and debit orders should continue to be facilitated from social grant beneficiaries bank accounts. 

The four court cases were heard on the 17th and 18th of October 2016. Net1 and some of its subsidiaries argued that the Regulations must be declared invalid. The Black Sash, as an intervening party, argued that if the High Court rules in the Net1 cohort’s favour, that the Minister be given the opportunity to fix Regulations to protect grant beneficiaries from exploitative practices.

For further enquiries please contact:

  • Black Sash KZN Regional Manager: Evashnee Naidu - 084 430 6133
  • Black Sash National Director: Lynette Maart - 083 628 3425

17 March 2017

The Black Sash is elated that the Constitutional Court granted all the requests in our application in today’s unprecedented ruling. We especially welcome the news that there will be no disruption to grant payments on 1 April 2017.  Cash Paymaster Service (CPS), performing an organ of the state, will continue to pay social grants for the next 12 months.
 
Very importantly, the ConCourt’s oversight over CPS’s extended contract with the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the implementation of the grant payment system was reinstated. Also significant is that the ConCourt asserted that the confidential data of social grant beneficiaries must be protected. 
 
Today’s ruling affirmed that when the Executive of government fails to perform its constitutional duties, the ConCourt can act decisively to safeguard and guarantee the protection of Section 27 rights, in this case social security. However, the country should not be put into this invidious position ever again.
 
We remain convinced that SASSA must fulfil its constitutional mandate to make grant payments nationally, without third parties with profit motives. The in-house payment system should create a special and protected SASSA bank account, free of deductions, including debit orders by third parties. Under the Court’s supervision, SASSA must now ensure that it becomes fit for purpose.
 
We are still carefully studying the full implications of the judgement and consulting our community and strategic partners and may issue a more comprehensive statement at a later stage.


For further comments please contact:

Thandiwe Zulu (Black Sash Gauteng Regional Manger) - 082 456 2643

Elroy Paulus (Black Sash Advocacy Manager) – 082 748 5621

Lynette Maart (Black Sash National Director) – 083 628 3425


For media related queries please contact:

Esley Philander (Black Sash Communications and Media) – 073 468 2909 / 021 686 6952

25 May 2017

The Black Sash is pleased that the Net 1 shareholders are finally holding the CEO of Net 1 to account.

Serge Belamant's retirement by the end of May 2017 is a clear signal of their intention to clean up unethical business practises. It indicates a move to defend the human right to social security by ensuring that grants are paid in full without deductions.  

The Hands Off our Grants campaign will continue to call for a protected ring fenced 'SASSA bank account' and an end to the migration of social grant funds from the SASSA branded bank account to the EasyPay Everywhere (EPE) bank account

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For further interviews please contact:

Evashnee Naidu (Black Sash KZN Regional Manager) -  084 430 6133 / 031 301 9215

For media related queries please contact:

Esley Philander (Black Sash Communications and Media) – 073 468 2909 / 021 686 6952

1 December 2016

On Wednesday 30 November 2016, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Department of Social Development (DSD) finally broke their silence with regards to progress for implementing plans to in-source social grant payments. SASSA and DSD assured Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Social Development that grant beneficiaries will continue to be paid from the 1st of April 2017. Payments will happen despite the current Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) SASSA contract expiring at the end of March 2017.

However, few details of how this will happen were forthcoming. In April 2014, the Constitutional Court declared the current CPS SASSA contract for the payment of social grants invalid. In November 2015, SASSA then submitted a plan to the ConCourt with fixed time-frames outlining its implementation plans for in-sourcing social grant payments. SASSA admitted to the Committee that it had missed five of its seven commitments to the ConCourt for in-sourcing grant payments. Both SASSA and DSD avoided questions on whether the invalid CPS SASSA contract can or will be renewed. 

SASSA admits that while they own the biometric data of social grant beneficiaries, they do not own the technology or the system to use the data. The SASSA Act is clear that the service providers must protect all personal data including the biometric data of grant beneficiaries. The ConCourt order was also explicit that the personal data of grant beneficiaries must be kept confidential. SASSA should have full ownership of the data and the system and cannot continue to be held hostage by a multi-national corporation.

SASSA also presented their long term plans including two options for a fully insourced system and for ending all deductions including loans from the SASSA bank account. In the short term however, this does not address the scourge of unauthorised, fraudulent and unlawful deductions, which we continue to witness.  It is imperative that unsecured USSD platform deductions for airtime, electricity and water must end immediately. Automatic transfers to the EasyPay Everywhere bank account without a mandate to SASSA must stop effective from the 31st of March 2017.

SASSA and DSD need to demonstrate more decisive leadership. A dedicated project team needs to work around the clock in partnership with the South African Reserve Bank and National Treasury to create a just and dignified social grant payment system and end the invalid CPS contract. The lives of over 17 million people depend on this. 

For more information contact:

Elroy Paulus (Black Sash Advocacy Manager) – 082 748 5621 021 686 6952

Lynette Maart (Black Sash National Director) – 083 628 3425 021 686 6952

Esley Philander (Black Sash Communications and Media) – 073 468 2909 021 686 6952

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The Black Sash congratulates the University of Stellenbosch Legal Aid Clinic, the 15 individual applicants, most of whom reside in Stellenbosch, the Legal Resources Centre and the South African Human Rights on the successful outcome of the Flemix case (Case No: 16703/14) in the Western Cape Division, Cape Town of the High Court of South Africa yesterday.

We are delighted that Judge Desai declared the EAO against the 15 individual applicants unlawful, invalid and of no force and effect. We also heartened by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services not to oppose the court's decision and the relief sought by the applicants. The judgment has a direct bearing for millions of social grant beneficiaries who currently experience unauthorised, unlawful, fraudulent and immoral deductions from their SASSA branded bank accounts by unscrupulous micro credit loan sharks, often without affordability tests. These deductions infringes on the human dignity of beneficiaries.

The Desai judgment is significant and precedent setting in that it ruled that the enforcement of any credit agreements to which the National Credit Act of 2005 applies, section 45 of the Magistrate Court Act (MCA) does not permit a debtor to give consent in writing to an emolument attachment order (EAO) outside of the jurisdiction where the debtor resides or is employed.

Secondly the process of issuing an EAO requires an evaluation of the amount of money to be attached per month compared to the amount needed by the debtor to support herself and her family. International law places a duty on the South African government to protect citizens against the abuse of human rights by business enterprises operating in their territory. It has a duty to protect victims with an effective remedy where abuses occur.

Judge Desai said the MCA is deficient in that it fails to protect debtors as EAOs are issued by a clerk of the court with judicial oversight. Workers (debtors) are not given an opportunity to make representation before an EAO is issued. Furthermore when an excessive portion of a debtor's earnings is attached, the remedy provided by the MCA is ineffective, particularly when indigent debtors consent to the jurisdiction of distant court. The Flemix case also surfaced the unethical practice of "forum shopping" of courts to secure emolument attachment orders.

For more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
National Advocacy Manager, Elroy Paulus on 0827485621 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lynette Maart, National Director on 021 686 6952 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) has urged social grant beneficiaries “not to panic” about the 31 December expiry date on their SASSA cards. The cards would remain active beyond that date, SASSA said in a statement on Monday. But the Black Sash has warned that this will mean problematic deductions from social grants will continue."

Read more: https://www.groundup.org.za/article/black-sash-raises-red-flag-over-future-sassa-accounts/

"The Black Sash has condemned the ‘scandalous profiteering by Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) during its invalid contract' with the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) for the period 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2017. This comes after papers filed in the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) by KPMG on 30 May revealed that CPS made almost R1.1 billion in pre-tax profit for distributing social grants."

Read more: http://www.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=162241

"The Constitutional Court should attach conditions to the extended social grants contract between the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). This is according to the Black Sash Trust in its responding affidavit to Sassa's application to have its contract with CPS extended until September. 

The contract Sassa currently has with CPS was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court‚ but it extended it to the end of March after the agency failed to find a new contractor. In papers filed to the Constitutional Court early this month‚ Sassa said the agency had managed to make arrangements for the payment of social grants to beneficiaries who are not serviced by CPS."

Read more: https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-02-28-black-sash-trust-wants-concourt-to-attach-conditions-to-sassa-contract-with-cps/

"Human rights Group Black Sash says it’s hopeful the inquiry into the South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) social grants debacle will give South Africans insight into what’s happening at the Social Security Agency. The court has tasked Ngoepe with determining whether the minister should pay the legal costs related to the matter. The likes of Black Sash and Freedom Under Law had raised concerns about government’s handling of a controversial payments contract with Cash Paymaster Services, and justices ruled the agreement could stand for a period of only 12 months."

Read more: http://ewn.co.za/2017/08/03/black-sash-inquiry-will-give-sa-insight-into-what-s-happening-at-sassa

 

"The Black Sash says that while it recognises much work has gone into the framework of a new social grants payment deal between Sassa and the Post Office, several gaps still exist.The group says it’s worried that the cash transfers could be outsourced through a competitive tender and that the extension of the Cash Paymaster Services contract is possible."

Read More: http://ewn.co.za/2017/12/11/black-sash-several-gaps-remain-with-social-grant-payments-deal

"Contingency plans to ensure that there’s no interruption to social grant payments come 1 April, are being discussed by Cabinet. The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is scrambling to decide on a way to make cash payments to 2.8 million beneficiaries. Sassa has today told Parliament’s social development portfolio committee that it is still to evaluate the bids for this service, with the tender only having closed on Monday. There is just a little more than two weeks to go before the grant payment system has to be fully insourced, but Sassa is still at the mercy of the Constitutional Court to allow a six-month extension of its contract with current service provider CPS, to allow for the smooth continuation of cash payments."

Read more: http://ewn.co.za/2018/03/14/cabinet-discussing-social-grant-payment-contingency-plans

4 August 2017

 
The Constitutional Court has made a new order in the matter brought by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) on behalf of the Black Sash Trust against SASSA, the Minister of Social Development and Cash Paymaster Services. In a previous judgment on 15 June, the Court ordered that Minister Bathabile Dlamini be joined to the matter in her personal capacity. The Court also declared that there should be a further inquiry into her personal liability for the social grant crisis earlier this year which sparked the need for this litigation.

On 2 August, the Court ordered that Justice Bernard Ngoepe be appointed as the referee for the inquiry to investigate the outstanding issues in the case. The order further states that the inquiry should be open to the public and that SASSA will bear the costs of the appointed referee. CALS and the Black Sash Trust welcome this order and the chance to further investigate and strengthen the social grant system.


For interviews please contact:



The Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Bonita Meyersfeld

Director, Centre for Applied Legal Studies

076 755 0257 / 011 717 86
 
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Nomonde Nyembe

Attorney, Centre for Applied Legal Studies

011 717 8606

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Black Sash Trust
Evashnee Naidu

KZN Regional Manager, Black Sash

084 430 6133 / 031 301 9215
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The social grant system remains an important tool for poverty eradication and provides poor households with means to meet their basic needs. This year, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) celebrates 10 years of delivering social assistance. Whilst this is cause for celebration, a lot still needs to be done to improve its effectiveness.

Since the start of the CPS contract in 2012, SASSA has been inundated with complaints from grant beneficiaries regarding unauthorised, unlawful and immoral deductions from the SASSA branded account. Regulation 26A of the Social Assistance Act provides for one deduction of not more than 10% of the value of the grant for funeral cover. The Department of Social Development released new regulations today to further clarify and bolster Regulation 26A. In 2014, SASSA initiated the funeral clean-up project to protect the rights of beneficiaries and ensure compliance which includes obtaining valid mandates directly from beneficiaries for funeral policy deductions.

On 5 October 2015, two funeral insurers, Channel Life Limited and Sanlam Developing Markets Limited, made an urgent application to the North Gauteng High Court to interdict SASSA from implementing the funeral clean-up project. A contestation, amongst others, is whether the signed agreement between the funeral insurer and the grant beneficiary constitutes 'written consent' as envisaged by the Regulations.

The Black Sash Trust has made an application to be admitted in the matter as amicus curiae with the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) as their legal representatives. Black Sash, together with other civil society groups, has conducted research to illustrate the impact of unauthorized and fraudulent grant deductions on grant beneficiaries.

Black Sash will also advance arguments concerning the effect of deductions from the children's grants. We will also advance arguments that speak to government's constitutional obligation in Section 27 to realise the right to social security. Corporates should refrain from interfering with the state's duty to provide social security to the most vulnerable members of society. "This is an important case as it asks the court to determine the parameters of SASSA's powers in protecting the constitutionally guaranteed right to social assistance," says Lynette Maart, Director of Black Sash.

The matter is set to be heard on Tuesday, 10 May 2016, when the North Gauteng High court will determine Black Sash's intervention as amicus curiae.

For enquiries, please contact:

Elroy Paulus

082 748 5621

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lynette Maart

021 686 6952

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has been criticised for failing to approach the Constitutional Court earlier to request an extension to its contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). The agency approached the court last month and requested a six-month extension. Sassa's current contract with CPS was declared invalid in 2014. The court then suspended this invalidity in March last year until the end of March 2018, to allow Sassa to appoint a new service provider."

Read more: http://ewn.co.za/2018/03/06/chief-justice-slams-sassa-over-cps-contract-extension-request

A Pandora’s Box of greed has been opened that SASSA alone cannot close.
 
The Black Sash is deeply concerned about the continued erosion of government social grants by immoral and possibly illegal business practices of SASSA’s contractor, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), together with its holding company, Net1.
 
There is mounting evidence that the microlending industry, including many subsidiaries of Net1, are debiting the bank accounts of grant beneficiaries in a manner that is increasingly frenzied and often unauthorised, leaving families with vastly reduced monthly incomes.
 
We note the statement by the Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, last week that the Department is considering legal action against CPS. While we welcome this first public acknowledgement by government that things are seriously wrong, we must state that this crisis is not new to the Department or to SASSA. It has been raised as a concern for months and government is aware of the desperate calls to the Black Sash Helpline, to the Legal Resources Centre, to community advice offices across South Africa; and of the evidence submitted by community monitors through CMAP.
 
Social grants are paid, using taxpayers’ money, to elderly and disabled people, as well as children, who are found through a stringent means test to be in real financial need. How ironic that this vulnerable group is now the chosen target of credit providers using dubious methods, and apparently with personal information from a data base that was to be held in trust by the State and its service providers. Our monitoring tells of grant beneficiaries vulnerable to credit providers in a situation where government regulations are unclear and contradictory, CPS’ systems of recourse ineffective, and their administrators dismissive.
 
Where the private sector targets public funds for profit, the role of government is clear. The Black Sash calls on government to fulfil its role as a key protector of rights, and specifically for the release of the Public Protector’s investigation. We will work with social grants beneficiaries, civil society organisations and the state to defend our country’s key strategy against poverty – our social grants system. We call on all right-minded people to support us in this work.
 
21 October 2013

For immediate release 


Spokespersons:

  • Elroy Paulus, Black Sash Advocacy Manager, 082 748 5621
  • Ratula Beukman, Black Sash Education & Training Manager, 072 174 3507
  • Evashnee Naidu, Regional Manager, Durban Office 031 301 9215

"The Constitutional Court on Thursday declined to hold social grants minister Bathabile Dlamini personally liable for legal costs in the social grants fiasco – for now. Instead it ordered a legal inquisition of sorts centred on whether she had misled the court, a process that could still force her to pay legal costs out of her own pocket."

Read more: https://mg.co.za/article/2017-06-15-concourt-asks-for-a-bad-faith-enquiry-on-dlamini-and-social-grants/

"The Constitutional Court has granted Sassa its request to continue with the services of Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for six months. Sassa filed an urgent application for the extension earlier this year, saying it wouldn’t be ready to take over social grant payments. This is the second suspension Sassa has been granted since the highest court in the land ruled that the contract with CPS was invalid."

Read more: http://ewn.co.za/2018/03/23/concourt-extends-sassa-s-contract-with-cps