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We didn’t have enough time – Sassa attorney

The attorney for SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has responded to a directive from the Chief Justice asking for an explanation on why a deadline to file papers on Monday was not met.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Tuesday instructed Sassa and Dlamini to respond by 3pm after they missed his Monday 4pm deadline by more than six-and-a-half hours.

In an affidavit attached to an application for condonation‚ Sassa’s attorney Tim Sukazi explains why the papers were only filed after 10.30pm.

A list of 25 items in the affidavit then deals with explaining the details surrounding why the papers were filed late‚ chief among these reasons being the need for Sukazi to source and appoint different legal counsel to assist him.

Answering papers to an application by Freedom Under Law needed to be filed by 10 March‚ a day after assembling a new legal team Sukazi explains.

The team was also busy with drafting a request to National Treasury to permit a deviation from competitive procurement processes to allow Cash Paymaster Services to continue the distribution of grants.

While Sukazi goes into great detail‚ his affidavit essentially reveals the responding papers were ready by 1pm on Monday – but at that time had to be presented to the Ministerial Task Team who made further amendments‚ delaying the legal team by nearly six hours.

“Shortly before 3pm when it became apparent that we would be unlikely to meet the 4pm deadline... I instructed another attorney in my firm to communicate with the Court advising it of the anticipated delay‚” Sukazi wrote.

This attorney he said‚ spoke to a court official at just after 3pm and also sent a letter to various parties at 5pm.

“I accept that the degree if non-compliance‚ though relatively slight‚ has resulted in the Court and the other parties being prejudiced because the members of the Court and the other parties in effect lost the opportunity to read the papers on Monday evening‚” Sukazi’s affidavit continued.

The main affidavit in the responding papers‚ that of Dr Wiseman Magasela‚ was only signed at 7pm‚ after which Sukazi and colleagues had to electronically scan all the documents to email them to the court.

“I however submit that in the circumstances‚ all reasonable efforts were made to comply with the Court’s directions timeously.” — TMG Digital

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