Key Constitutional Court Papers

AIDC

Black Sash Submissions

Panel of Experts

SASSA Reports

Net 1 Court Papers 2017

Supreme Court of Appeal Papers

We ask for your support for the campaign through the following actions:

  1. Register your cases of debit deductions and complete a community report at your local advice office.
  2. If you have difficulties finding a local advice office contact the Black Sash Helpline on 072 663 3739 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.
  3. Engage your local SASSA by lodging a formal complaint. Keep records and track the process. See toll free details below.
  4. Engage in Rights Education linked to the Campaign.
  5. Watch the Black Sash website (www.blacksash.org.za), facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BlackSashSouthAfrica), and the media for next steps.

REMEMBER!

After acquiring a statement of your dispute, report your dispute using the CPS toll free number 0800 600 160, or at SASSA local office. A SASSA official should send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or at a CPS Pay Point. The CPS team leader should send a “please call me” message to 082 3725104 or 083 296 8292. A CPS Call Centre agent should respond by calling you back.

Download our flyer -Process for SASSA beneficiaries to report a dispute

What have we done to assist?:

In 2013, together with the LRC, we engaged a SASSA delegation on the debit deductions crisis; met with NET 1 to discuss the unlawful debit deductions, the use of beneficiaries’ confidential data, and recourse options; wrote a letter to the South African Reserve Bank to issue a Directive 12 into the banking system and wrote an open letter to the Minister of the DSD and the CEO of SASSA, copied to various other government departments, containing our demands.

The Constitutional Court and a New SASSA Tender process:

In November 2013 the Constitutional Court declared the contract between SASSA and CPS, for the administration of social grants, invalid. The Court was to hear arguments towards a just and equitable remedy on 11 February 2014.

 In 2014, the Constitutional Court, in the matter of AllPay 2 vs SASSA and Cash Paymasters Service, ruled the outsourced contract between CPS and SASSA invalid. It found that corporates performing a state function (such as the payment of social security) are organs of state, subject to the same public accountability and scrutiny. However, the judgment of invalidity was suspended so as not to cause disruption to the payment of social grants. The ConCourt further ruled that SASSA put out a new tender that will run for a period of five years and that SASSA had to ensure that the confidential data of grant beneficiaries was protected. If the tender was not awarded, CPS would continue its five-year term, ending in March 2017.

 In January 2015 the Black Sash joined the AllPay2 Constitutional Court matter as Amicus Curiae (friend of the court). The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) were instructing attorneys. On 24 March 2015, the ConCourt ruled in our favour for SASSA to set up a time-frame to conclude the process of awarding the new tender for the national payment of grants.

 On 15 October 2015, SASSA announced that it would not appoint a new service provider and would continue with the current CPS (constitutionally invalid) contract until its termination in March 2017. While this wouldn’t stop the fraudulent deductions, it meant that SASSA would take over the function of the national payment of grants sooner, as a new contract was to be awarded for a five-year period.

In May 2016, the Minister of Social Development issued new regulations to stop unauthorised deductions from the SASSA bank account. But in June 2016, Net1, a few of its subsidiaries and other commercial companies took DSD and SASSA to court in four legal cases, challenging primarily SASSA and the Department of Social Development’s interpretation of the new regulations and secondly, the new regulations itself.  

The Black Sash and six co-applicants asked the court to order that the Minister publish regulations to protect social grants from exploitation if: (a) DSD and SASSA’s interpretation is correct; and (b) the interpretation renders the new regulations unconstitutional. Government should be given the opportunity to fix the new regulations, if defective, to protect vulnerable beneficiaries from unscrupulous third-party service providers.

The Black Sash Trust again approached the court in March 2017 after SASSA acknowledged it would not be able to pay millions of grants from April 1‚ despite promising the court in November 2015 it would do so. The ConCourt reinstated its oversight over the payment of social grants by requiring that the Minister of Social Development and SASSA file quarterly reports with the ConCourt. They also suspended the declaration of invalidity for the additional year that the CPS contract had been extended to by the Court.  By 1 April 2018, SASSA must follow the proper tender procedure or insource the grant payment function itself.  The Court further ruled that there must be safeguards to ensure personal data obtained from social grant beneficiaries in the payment process remains private and may not be used for any other purpose than the payment of grants.

On 15 June 2017, the Court ordered that Minister Dlamini be joined to the case in her personal capacity.  Allegations against the Minister by senior staff from the Department of Social Development as well as SASSA, related to parallel work streams, would now be investigated. The ConCourt further instructed all parties to agree on a referee and a process to investigate this matter. 

On 20 July 2017, Black Sash appealed against a ruling that permits Net1 to continue to allow deductions from the social grants it administers. The appeal has been lodged with the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) after Justice Van der Westhuizen, who decided the initial application, denied leave to appeal in the Pretoria High Court. 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.

The Constitutional Court’s final ruling over Social Development Minister Dlamini’s liability in the crisis over an invalid contract between the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and social grant payment provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) has yet to be decided.

In October 2015, more than 1200 people from a range of civil society organisations demanded that unauthorised, unlawful, fraudulent and immoral deductions from beneficiaries’ SASSA bank accounts be stopped.

It is October 2016 and we are here again!

New regulations, published in May 2016, were meant to stop the flood of unauthorised, unlawful and fraudulent debit deductions from the SASSA bank accounts. Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and Grindrod Bank were instructed to remove the debit order facility from the SASSA bank account.

But in June 2016 Net1 (which owns CPS), some of its subsidiaries, including Moneyline and Manje Mobile Services, as well as a few other companies took government to court in four cases challenging primarily SASSA and the Department of Social Development’s interpretation of the new regulations and secondarily the new regulations itself. The applicants are asking the High Court to interpret the functionality of the SASSA bank account to include debit orders. They question the authority of the Minister of Social Development to regulate electronic debits within the banking domain.

They also asked that the new regulations be declared unconstitutional, if indeed the Department of Social Development (DSD) and SASSA’s interpretation of the regulations is correct.

The Black Sash and six co-applicants asked the court to order that the Minister publish regulations to protect social grants from exploitation if: (a) DSD and SASSA’s interpretation is correct; and (b) that the interpretation renders the new regulations unconstitutional. Government should be given the opportunity to fix the new regulations, if defective, to protect vulnerable beneficiaries from predatory and unscrupulous financial and other third party service providers.

For months we have gathered evidence and testimonies from affected persons about money deducted from the bankaccounts into which their social grants are paid, without their approval or informed consent. Media reports also show that cases of suspicious deductions continue and are on the increase. The system that SASSA has put in place to solve deduction disputes is not working well, leaving many beneficiaries unable to resolve queries and/or claim back their money.

THIS MUST STOP!

This Campaign asserts the Constitutional right to social security.

Finally, we note the Constitutional Court order in April 2012 that SASSA must lodge a report within fourteen days of not awarding a new tender, “on whether and when it will be ready to assume the duty to pay the grants itself” (insource).

In November 2015, SASSA submitted a plan to ConCourt with clear deliverables and timeframes for taking over payment of grants by the end of the CPS/SASSA contract in March 2017. We are closely monitoring SASSA’s progress in this regard.

The Black Sash led Hands Off Our Grants (HOOG) Campaign calls for:

• SASSA to take over the payment of social grants (in-source) by 1 April 2017;

• The creation of a special and protected SASSA bank account;

• Improved implementation of SASSA’s recourse system;

• Refund disputed deductions with bank charges and interest backdated to 2012; &

• The protection of personal and private information of all in the social grant system.

Black Sash, the Association for Community Advice Offices of South Africa (ACAOSA), supporting civil society organisations along with SASSA beneficiaries are asking for your support as follows:

• Register your disputed debit deductions with your local SASSA office immediately or call SASSA’s Toll Free Number on 0800 60 10 11. If necessary, escalate your dispute to SASSA regional, provincial and national offices.

• To have your organisation endorse this Campaign please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

• Mass action to be held in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban on 17 – 18 October 2016.

• Sign up for the Amandla.mobi ‘Hands Off Our Grants’ petition.

Visit https://awethu.amandla.mobi/petitions/hands-off-our-grants. If you don’t have access to the internet, you can sign up for the petition by sending the word ‘grants’ in a SMS, Please Call me or Whatsapp to 074 357 6937.

We refuse to remain silent about the hardship and struggles of poor and vulnerable people affected by these unauthorised and often fraudulent deductions. As a result beneficiaries experience food shortages and are unable to take their medicines. Many, particularly in rural communities, struggle to find recourse, spending extra money on transport and airtime, often with little success.

For more information – please email:

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

We challenge the unlawful, fraudulent and unethical business practices of the current SASSA outsourced contract; and demand that the State fulfil its Constitutional obligations.

We invite you to endorse and support this Campaign on the 17-18th October 2016 Court hearings in the Pretoria High Court. This outcome may define the powers of the Minister of Social Development to prohibit disputed deductions from SASSA Grants Beneficiaries!

DOWNLOAD THIS FLYER IN ENGLISH | ISIXHOSA | AFRIKAANS

The Minister of Social Development, the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) need to account for the unauthorised, undocumented and illegal debit deductions from the bank accounts of social grantees by outsourced contractor, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and holding company NET 1 since the introduction of the biometric system in 2012.

Social Assistance, as enshrined in Section 27 of our Constitution, provides a vital income for millions of South African households trapped in a binary of poverty and inequality, unable to provide for their own needs and those of dependents. The public purse pays social grants to the elderly, the disabled, as well as children, who are found through a stringent means test to be in real financial need. Approximately 15 million people benefitting from social grant provisions have become the target of commercially motivated and unscrupulous credit by financial service providers, who use confidential personal information, entrusted to our government.

The unauthorised, undocumented and unlawful debit deductions crisis, fuelled by greed and excessive profits, is eroding the mandate and integrity of the social security system. It is also eroding gains made towards the progressive realisation of social security over the last 20 years since our democracy. Thousands of families are experiencing increased hardship and now struggle to pay for food, rent, school fees, transport and other basic needs due to these deductions, seriously compromising basic human dignity.

As early as 2011, the Black Sash and partners began to uncover violations of Norms and Standards at SASSA Paypoints and found increasing evidence of irregular, unauthorised and undocumented third party debit deductions from SASSA beneficiaries’ bank accounts. In 2012, largely as a result of the Service Level Agreement between the SASSA and CPS/Net1, debit deductions of social grants increased drastically. Furthermore, the CPS’s recourse systems remains ineffective, adding additional burden and cost on social grant beneficiaries.

The Stop SASSA-CPS Debits Campaign launched in 2013 by the Black Sash and supported by various civil society partners, draws attention to the crisis of debit deductions from social assistance grants. For a period of a year, we registered concerns with government using information generated from desperate calls to the Black Sash Helpline, the Legal Resources Centre, community advice offices and CBOs across South Africa. Whilst we are encouraged by government’s acknowledgement that things are seriously wrong – actions to remedy the crisis are inadequate and slow.

Correspondence in November 2013 and our open letter dated 6 January 2014 to the Department of Social Development, SASSA, the South African Reserve Bank and related government departments as well as public entities requested an urgent meeting. The 29 January 2014 meeting to be held at Khotso House, Johannesburg provides a public platform to register the crisis and consider responses and actions from government, particularly from the Minister of Social Development, the Department of Social Development and SASSA. We will hear testimonies from SASSA beneficiaries, advice offices and other CBO partners bearing witness to the impact of these deductions on individuals, households and communities. We expect government to provide substantial answers to our queries, requests and demands.

In this regard, the Black Sash and partners calls for:

  1. The Minister of Social Development to intervene decisively to stop the escalation of unauthorised, undocumented and unlawful deductions from bank accounts of social grant beneficiaries.
  2. The Minister of Social Development to amend the Social Assistance Act criminalising the use of social assistance grants as collateral by lenders and to stop the sale of credit and other products. Parliament amends the National Credit Act and related legislation so that social assistance grants are not considered as income, as intended by the legislation.
  3. The Minister of Social Development and SASSA to immediately in-source the social assistance grants to protect government’s social security mandate and ensure the effective and secure implementation of legislation, policies and systems. Fast track the implementation of the Inter-Ministerial Committee’s recommendation to develop a SASSA payment system independent of external service providers before the deadline of 2015 and report publicly on plans and steps taken in this regard.
  4. The Minister of Social Development, SASSA and third parties be held responsible for providing recourse and compensation for these debit deductions.
  5. The Minister of Social Development establishes the long overdue Inspectorate for Social Assistance as intended by the Social Assistance Act of 2003 to “ensure the maintenance of the integrity of the social assistance framework and system” and to conduct appropriate investigations.

January 2014

For immediate release


For further information contact:

  • Elroy Paulus, 082 748 5621
  • Ratula Beukman, 021 686 6952 

"The Constitutional Court's decision extending the suspension of invalidity on the contract between the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) ends on 31 March 2018. For SASSA to meet its legal obligations, it needs an alternative grant payment system and, in the interim, a new service provider. However, since the Constitutional Court judgment on 17 March 2017, there has been no progress.- So said Black Sash National Director Lynette Maart on Wednesday."

Read more: http://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/279877/how-to-fix-the-utterly-vital-social-grant-system-according-to-black-sash

21 November 2017

While the Black Sash appreciates the intervention by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) for Comprehensive Social Security, the report back to the joint meeting of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) and the Social Development Portfolio Committee on Tuesday 21 November 2017 lacks significant details.

Although an Implementation Protocol has been signed between the South African Post Office (SAPO) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), a service level agreement will be ‘subject to cost effectiveness’. The Card Body Production and Distribution function will be further subjected to ‘price competitiveness’. This leaves the door wide open for new tenders and may prolong the implementation time frame beyond 31 March 2018 The IMC report identifies implementation stages without clear milestones and time frames including the hand over from the current service provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), to SAPO and/or new service providers. The IMC’s proposed plan is also silent on who will manage the 10 000 SASSA pay points.

The Black Sash is disappointed that the IMC’s report did not include details for how the confidential data of over 17 million social grant beneficiaries will be protected as per the March 2017 Constitutional Court order. While we look forward to the creation of a special protected and affordable bank account for social grant beneficiaries, further clarity is needed about the concept for a ‘hybrid model’ involving the banks. Commercial banks should not see this as an opportunity to fleece beneficiaries of their meagre social grants by targeting financial products at them.  This special account must prohibit unauthorized, fraudulent and unlawful deductions.

The communication plan, to be rolled out by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), must be implemented with urgency. Every effort must be made to communicate directly with social grant beneficiaries to protect them from misinformation and scams.

Until SASSA, with the support of the IMC, files a detailed implementation plan on 8 December 2017 with the Constitutional Court, the Black Sash remains cautiously optimistic.



For interviews please contact:

  • Evashnee Naidu
    Black Sash KZN Regional Manager
    084 430 6133 / 031 301 9215
  • Lynette Maart 
    Black Sash National Director
    083 628 3425 / 021 686 6952  

For media related enquiries please contact:

  • Esley Philander
    Black Sash Communications and Media
    073 468 2909 / 021 686 6952

8 November 2017

The Constitutional Court's decision extending the suspension of invalidity on the contract between the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) ends on 31 March 2018. For SASSA to meet its legal obligations, it needs an alternative grant payment system and in the interim a new service provider. However, since the Constitutional Court judgment on 17 March 2017, there has been no progress.
 
Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) for Comprehensive Social Security, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, told the joint hearing of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) and the Social Development Portfolio Committee today that government will move with the necessary speed to introduce an integrated payment system which will be provided by government through a partnership between SASSA and the South African Post Office (SAPO), working with entities like Home Affairs. A project plan will be developed by Friday 17 November 2017. While the intervention by the IMC is welcomed at this late stage, we would like to see concrete action by 21 November 2017.
 
It is also unclear what is meant by a hybrid model for the payment of grants and how the banks will be involved. The Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) indicated its willingness to assist. One of its members, Grindrod Bank, with IT support from Net1, has created the SASSA bank account and recently the EasyPay Everywhere bank account to facilitate debit orders and other deductions particularly for Net1 subsidiaries. In the course of our community monitoring work, we have taken up many cases of unauthorised, fraudulent and unlawful deductions and debit orders. We do not want a repeat of the past where profit is the sole motive of the service provider and grant beneficiaries’ constitutional right to social security and social assistance is violated.
 
In order to re-establish the integrity of the social grant system the Black Sash would like to reiterate the important considerations below:

  • The personal confidential data collected during the social grant registration process must be protected and used only for the payment of grants. It should not be used for the marketing and sales of financial and other services. This protection should also include the bank cards issued to grant beneficiaries, the machines reading these cards and the control of access to confidential data.
  • The bank accounts of grant beneficiaries must be ring fenced and protected from debit orders and unauthorised, fraudulent and unlawful deductions. Child support grants and temporary grants need particular protection.
  • The new bank account should include some free services such as no transaction costs should be charged for cash withdrawals from ATMs, and grant beneficiaries should receive at least one free bank statement a month.
  • Grant beneficiaries must be able to navigate the recourse system independently, with no cost which is currently almost impossible.

The Black Sash will continue to monitor these developments and look forward to the report on 21 November 2017.


 
For interviews please contact:

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

Lynette Maart 
Black Sash National Director
083 628 3425 / 021 686 6952 


For media related enquiries please contact:

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


JOINT MEDIA RELEASE BY AIDC, CALS AND BLACK SASH

19 November 2017


INDEPENDENT REPORT DISPUTES CASH PAYMASTER SERVICES DISCLOSED FULL EXTENT OF PROFIT

CPS financial statement submitted to the Constitutional Court, audited by KPMG, has not provided enough information to determine how much the company benefited from its unlawful contract with SASSA

The Black Sash Trust and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies commissioned the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) to analyse financial statements filed by Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) with the Constitutional Court in May this year.

In April 2014, the Court ruled that CPS’ contract with the South African Security Agency (SASSA) to distribute social grants was unlawful; that they had no right to benefit from this unlawful contract; and that they must provide an audited financial statement of their expenses, income and net profit from the five-year contract when it was completed. The Court suspended its order of invalidity to ensure beneficiaries continued to receive their grants without interruption.

CPS duly submitted their statement, audited by KPMG, to the Court in May this year (view the statement here). Even on the face of it, the seven-page statement (that only contains half a page of figures) purporting to account for a five year period, of a massive government tender worth billions, is remarkable in its brevity.

A critical review of the financial statement has shown that CPS has not provided sufficient information to draw a definite conclusion on how much net profit was made from the unlawful contract. In particular, the report by AIDC finds:

  1. The statement appears to underestimate the pre-tax profits of CPS from the unlawful contract by between R214.2 million and R614.4 million. The figures in the statement do not match the revenue from social grant distribution in South Africa outlined in Annual Reports from Net1 (its parent company) to its shareholders. The figures also include a BEE transaction for R117.1 million and cash bonuses for senior managers related to the contract of R41.8 million that should not bedefined as CPS’ expenses.  
  1. The statement does not indicate whether the figures outlined are for Cash Paymaster Services (Pty) Ltd alone or include the profits of its subsidiaries which are also involved in grant distribution and security. This ought to be clarified by CPS and its auditors at KPMG.
  1. Net1 clearly outlines in its Annual Reports that its proximity to social grant beneficiaries is used by its other South African subsidiaries for targeted advertising. It seems clear that these affiliates of CPS have also profited from its unlawful contract.
  1. The statement does not include any financial information to show when CPS started making a profit in terms of the unlawful contract – which the Court’s judgment indicated it ought to disclose.

Significantly, the report demonstrates that Cash Paymaster Services has not disclosed the full extent of its profits from the unlawful contract with SASSA as directed by the Constitutional Court. Read the full report here.

There is no firm plan yet in place to ensure the uninterrupted payment of social grants come 1 April 2018. The looming crisis could again result in a further extension of CPS’ unlawful contract. Quite apart from the ongoing contestation between beneficiaries and CPS about unauthorised deductions, this report also suggests additional staggering costs to the state.

For enquiries, please contact:

From the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC):

Dick Forslund

Senior Economist

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

 

From the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS):

Nomonde Nyembe
Attorney

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
076 100 6156 / 011 717 8606

 

"Despite the intervention of the National Treasury in an impasse between the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Post Office (Sapo), a credible deal between both parties for the payment of social grants is yet to be announced.

Instead, the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on social security – now led by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe – has been roped in to lead the process of phasing out the social grant payment contract of incumbent Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) in the next five months."

https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/south-africa/jeff-radebe-post-office-and-sassa-deal-is-still-on-the-cards/

"Judge Bernard Ngoepe will now have to set a date for the start of the South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants inquiry after he was named on Wednesday as the person who will oversee the process. The public inquiry is expected to reveal Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini's role in the scandal and her relationship with former CEO Thokozani Magwaza."

Read more: http://ewn.co.za/2017/08/03/judge-ngoepe-to-set-start-date-for-sassa-inquiry

Closing arguments in the Constitutional Court mandated inquiry into the former Minister of Social Development’s personal liability will be heard on Monday 19 March 2018 from 9:00 at the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand. This is an open hearing and members of the public and media are welcome to
attend.

The inquiry into Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s role ahead of last year’s social grants crisis began in January 2018. This follows a Constitutional Court order declaring that the Minister should be joined in her personal capacity to litigation brought by the Black Sash Trust, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), against SASSA, the Minister and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). The litigation sought to protect themsocial grant system when the contract between SASSA and CPS ended in March 2017 and SASSA had no plan in place to continue paying social grants.

The purpose of the inquiry, led by the Honourable Justice Bernard Ngoepe, is to clarify certain disputes between the Minister and the former CEO of SASSA as well as the former Director General of Social Development. The disputes are linked to whether the Minister should be held personally liable for the costs of the litigation last year. The Court seeks clarity on the appointment of “work streams” within SASSA to report directly to her; the details of these appointments; the work streams’ reports relating to SASSA’s objective to insource paying social grants by April 2017; and why the Minister did not disclose this information to the Court.

It is clear from the evidence presented at the inquiry that the Minister did not approach the Court timeously when she became aware that SASSA would not meet its deadline. Further, the Minister instructed SASSA to appoint work streams costing in excess of R700 million, outside of lawful procurement processes, for targets the work streams could never have met. The Minister ought to have known that SASSA would not make its April 2017 deadline to take over paying social grants long before the appointment of the work streams in July 2016.

This means that the Minister failed in her duties. She failed to ensure that SASSA carried out theundertakings which it had made to the Constitutional Court, and she failed in her duty to report openly and comprehensively to the Court when it became clear that SASSA would not carry out those undertakings.

“Instead of fulfilling her core mandate of ensuring that grant beneficiaries get paid, the Minister put the lives of 17 million people at risk,” says Lynette Maart, national director of the Black Sash Trust. “The evidence points to her gross dereliction of duty. She is ultimately accountable for the crisis of March 2017 and should be held personally liable.”


For inquiries, please contact:

From the Centre for Applied Legal Studies


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

078 684 3140 / 011 717 8608 

Akhona Mehlo, Attorney 
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063 266 5963 / 011 717 8606


From the Black Sash Trust


Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker  
Black Sash National Advocacy Manager
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

072 252 0333 / 021 686 6952

Angie Richardson 
Media Relations
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
083 397 2512

MEDIA RELEASE
 
15 June 2017

Today, the Constitutional Court handed down their latest judgment 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. The Court has ordered that Minister Bathabile Dlamini be joined to the matter in her personal capacity, but has not ruled on whether she should be personally liable for the costs of the application. This decision is based on the fact that Minister Dlamini did not respond to the allegations in other submissions related to parallel work streams.
 
Instead, the Court has ordered that within 14 days all parties must report on whether they agree to a further investigative process in terms of section 38. Parties will be expected to discuss the terms of reference of the inquiry as well as potential referees to guide the process. After 14 days, the Court will then review submissions by the parties and will intervene with directives where agreement cannot be reached.
 
“This is a prudent decision in light of the contested issues in this case,” says Prof Bonita Meyersfeld, Director of CALS. “We will engage fully in the process as instructed by the Court. Our priority is finding an independent referee with knowledge of both the constitution, government structures and capacity.”


 
For interviews please contact:



The Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Bonita Meyersfeld
Director, Centre for Applied Legal Studies

076 755 0257 / 011 717 86
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.


For media related enquiries please contact:

Esley Philander
Communications and Media, Black Sash
073 468 2909 / 021 686 6952
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

20 June 2017

Today the Black Sash Trust and social grant beneficiaries, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, argued for leave to appeal an earlier decision by the North Gauteng High Court. The decision, handed down on 9 May 2017, concerned an application brought by Net1 and some of its affiliate companies Moneyline, Manje Mobile, SmartLife and Finbond against the Minister of Social Development and SASSA. The application sought to challenge the interpretation of new regulations issued by the Minister aimed at limiting deductions from social grants.

Black Sash and the grant beneficiaries sought to intervene in the application to ensure beneficiaries are protected and to maintain the integrity of the social assistance system. We asked the Court, if it found in favour of Net1 on their interpretation of the regulations, to order that the Minister issue new regulations which do protect grant beneficiaries. The Court granted the application in favour of Net1 and dismissed the application by the Black Sash and grant beneficiaries.

SASSA, the Minister of Social Development and Black Sash later sought leave to appeal this judgment believing that the Court’s decision left grant beneficiaries vulnerable. The leave to appeal application was heard today and was refused. In refusing the application, the Court found that there is no distinction between social grant beneficiaries’ accounts held at Grindrod Bank and any other bank account held at another bank; and that the regulations do not operate to restrict beneficiaries in the operation of their bank account.

“We are disappointed by today’s outcome, especially given the Constitutional Court’s March decision which recognised that grant beneficiaries’ accounts do require special protection,” says Lynette Maart, National Director of the Black Sash Trust. “We remain committed to protecting grant beneficiaries from exploitation and unlawful deductions from their social grants.”


For interviews please contact:



The Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Bonita Meyersfeld

Director, Centre for Applied Legal Studies

076 755 0257 / 011 717 86
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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 'unauthorised, fraudulent and unlawful' deductions of amounts for airtime, prepaid electricity, prepaid water, funeral and insurance policies and the repayment of loans from the accounts of Sassa grant beneficiaries have been the cause of frustrations for many grant recipients, says advocacy group Black Sash. That was what brought together various local organisations working with grant beneficiaries last Thursday at the Methodist Metro Hall to discuss how they might support the Black Sash’s “Hands Off Our Grants” campaign aimed at bringing deductions of this nature to an end."

Read more: https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Local/Maritzburg-Fever/local-campaign-to-stop-grant-deductions-launched-20170719

Mass Action

In October and November 2013 the Black Sash and partners launched the 'Stop SASSA-CPS Debits Campaign'. This was later renamed "Hands Off Our Grants'. 

On 20 July 2015, we initiated the Speak Out strategy in Franschoek, Western Cape. The Speak Out strategy was part of the build-up to the October 2015 mass action. The Speak Out was attended by over 50 grant beneficiaries (organized through the Paarl Advice Office), Thokozani Magwaza, acting DSD Director General for Social Security, representatives from SASSA and 1Life. This was followed by various other Speak Outs in the Western Cape including in Genadendal and Botrivier.

On 15 and 16 October 2015, the Black Sash, community and strategic partners staged three mass silent protests at St. Georges Cathedral Cape Town, SASSA Offices in Maphonya Mall in Soweto and at the SASSA National Offices in Pretoria, with approximately 1300 present. At all events memorandums were handed to DSD or SASSA officials for the attention of Minister Dlamini.

Key messages included: “SASSA take over the function of the payment of social grants from Cash Paymaster Services” “SASSA owned and controlled recourse system” “Stop all unauthorized, unlawful, fraudulent and immoral deductions” “Protect the confidential data of the grant beneficiaries”

The mass action was supported by SASSA beneficiaries’ organisations including Social Justice Coalition (SJC), Right2Know Campaign; Disabled People of South Africa, ACAOSA, Section27, Diakonia Council of Churches, Equal Education Law Centre; Justice and Peace – Archdiocese in Johannesburg, Children in Distress Network (Cindi) &ACESS. 

Mass action was again held in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban on 17 – 18 October 2016 during the course of the Court hearings in the Pretoria High court

Fraudulent 1Life funeral deductions from SASSA social grants Grant beneficiaries, most of them former farm workers from the Franschoek area, went to the Paarl Advice Office, desperate to stop the 1 Life funeral cover debit deductions from their SASSA bank accounts. They were told by the broker that SASSA has instructed all grant beneficiaries to take out 1 Life funeral policies. They were also not given an opportunity to read the completed application form and were told by the agents to authorize the forms with their finger prints (biometric data). Deductions commenced and all their efforts to cancel the policies and stop the deductions fell on deaf ears. Black Sash worked together the Paarl Advice Office to ensure that the initial cohort of 18 beneficiaries receive a full refund of all the instalments paid. 

Resources Relating to the October 2016 Mass Action:

SASSA has until tomorrow to comply with the Constitutional Court order to appoint a new social grant service provider. It follows a ruling made by our highest court 18 months ago declaring the contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) invalid.

The SASSA tender process was found to be flawed, and over the past three years CPS has been allowed to facilitate unlawful and fraudulent deductions from the bank accounts created by SASSA for beneficiaries. SASSA has a constitutional mandate to ensure the effective delivery of social assistance to our most vulnerable citizens including the distribution of social grants to over 16 million people, currently via 10 million bank accounts.

We call on SASSA to ensure that grant beneficiaries receive the full cash value of their grant, free of any deductions.

We will hold silent protests at key venues in Cape Town, Soweto and Pretoria and will hand over a memorandum of our key demands to Department of Social Development and SASSA.

The Hands Off Our Grants campaign calls for:

  • SASSA to take full responsibility for the administration and payment of grants as soon as possible. Protect our constitutional rights to social security! Protect grant beneficiaries from these immoral and predatory practices!
  • DSD and SASSA to stop Cash Paymaster Services (fulfilling the function of an organ of state) from facilitating these unlawful, fraudulent and immoral deductions. Beneficiaries must receive the full cash value of the grant.
  • DSD and SASSA to stop Cash Paymaster Services and Net1 subsidiaries, Net1 Mobile Solutions and Moneyline from exploiting the confidential data of SASSA beneficiaries!
  • a SASSA-owned and controlled recourse system that grant beneficiaries can readily access to be put in place urgently and rolled out nationally. Pay back the money backdated to 2012!
  • The recently established Inspectorate to be empowered to act swiftly to protect the interests of grant beneficiaries and to educate the public of its functions.

These unlawful, fraudulent and immoral deductions from Beneficiaries’ SASSA branded bank accounts  - must stop!Minister Dlamini we urge you to hold SASSA to account and take strong action against these predators companies and practices! Protect the constitutional rights of the most vulnerable of our country!

A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members. Mahatma Ghandi

This campaign is supported by amongst others: the Black Sash, SASSA beneficiaries, The Association of Community-based Offices of South Africa (ACAOSA), Right2Know Campaign, Section 27, Equal Education Law Centre, TCOE, Dullah Omar Institute (UWC), Social Justice Coalition, Cape Metro Health, Tshwane North Outreach (TNO), Justice and Peace Arch Diocese – Jhb and Pta, Tshedza Community Development Centre Children in Distress Network (CINDI), ACESS, UWC Community Law Centre, Students for Law and Social Justice, Diakonia Council of Churches, UDM, Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP), Khanya College, Lebaleng Advice and Development Centre, Interchurch Local Development Agency, U2U Foundation, People’s Health Movement South Africa.

Contact People

Black Sash: Colleen Ryan 0826633364, Lynette Maart 0836283425,

Social Justice Coalition: Thandeka Kathi 0734272083

Right2Know: Ghalib Galant 0849591912 and Khaya Xintolo 0780241683

 

Note the silent protests will be held on:

  • Thursday 15 October: St. George’s Cathedral, Cape Town between 12h00 – 13h00
  • Thursday 15 October 2015: SASSA Soweto Service Centre, Maponya Mall, Klipspruit, Soweto from 11h00
  • Friday 16 October 2015: SASSA House (National office), Cnr. Steve Biko and Pretoria street, Arcadia, Pretoria from 11h00