Sassa social grants

Barbara Maregele

Social grants: Sassa to be payed back R316m after court order

Another twist in the long-running Social Grants saga. This time, it might actually be the first bit of good news since Bathabile Dlamini got reshuffled.

Sassa social grants

Barbara Maregele

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) may be free of Bathabile Dlamini, but it’s also about to have a lot more money. All of this being thanks to a ruling by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

The court ordered Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to pay back R316m with interest to the agency.

What is Cash Paymaster Services?

CPS is the company that Sassa has been using to pay the social grants to the various beneficiaries.

Sassa paid CPS the money in 2014 after the company had claimed it enrolled more grant recipients and beneficiaries than it had been contracted for.

Investigative journalism unit amaBhungane had previously reported that Sassa’s chief executive officer at the time, Virginia Petersen, had accepted CPS claim without question.

In the original 2012 contract, CPS was hired to undertake both payment and enrolment.  In 2015, Corruption Watch went to court and began procedures to have the money paid back. Believe it or not, CPS, as well as Sassa, opposed the legal action until the agency withdrew its objection last year.

“As a result of Sassa’s unlawful conduct, the fiscus has been robbed of a substantial amount of money intended for the most vulnerable and poor people of our country.

“It is just and equitable that the payment of R316m made by Sassa to CPS, together with interest, be returned to the fiscus for the benefit of those for whom it was intended in the first place,” said Judge Moroa Tsoka

Corruption Watch has labelled the judgment a significant win for civil society.

On Friday, the Constitutional Court granted Sassa’s request to extend the contract with CPS for a further six months. Sassa has also been ordered to provide regular detailed reports to the court regarding plans for its own payment service. Any changes to the arrangement with CPS also has to be reported.