What took you so long?' ConCourt asks Sassa

SASSA card.
SASSA card.
Image: File Photo

The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has been asked to explain why it took so long to ask the Constitutional Court to extend its contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

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 February‚ Sassa launched an application at the Constitutional Court‚ asking it to extend its contract with CPS.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng asked counsel for the agency‚ Nazeer Cassim SC‚ to explain why Sassa did not launch the application as soon as they realised there were problems.

"Why did you not immediately launch the application if you knew as early as December ... Why did you wait until February to approach this court? You could have come to court and say‚ 'I see danger coming our way‚'" Mogoeng charged.

Cassim said the agency was focusing on the tender process and "they genuinely believed they could get their house in order".

Cassim also told the court that Sassa became aware on December 8 when it concluded a contract with the South African Post Office (Sapo) that the latter would not be able to do part of its job.

"It was only on the 8th of December that they [Sapo] said they don't have infrastructure to carry the cash payment system‚" Cassim said.

Sassa is asking the Constitutional Court to extend its contract with CPS until September in order for it to pay the 2.8-million beneficiaries who receive their social grants in cash.

In its court papers‚ the agency said it has made provision for beneficiaries who are not serviced by CPS.

Responding to Sassa's application‚ the Black Sash Trust said it did not oppose the agency's application but asked the court to attach conditions to the extension. These include that the Constitutional Court extend its oversight role and Sassa requirements.


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