Pretoria — The Constitutional Court has extended the South African Social Security Agency's contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for a year in order to fulfil the constitutional obligation of paying social grants to beneficiaries.
CPS is responsible for the distribution of social grants to 17 million beneficiaries. Its contract, which was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in 2014, would have come to an end on 31 March 2017. The court, however, suspended the invalidity so grants could continue to be paid while SASSA made another plan.
Today's judgment was handed down by Constitutional High Court Justice Johan Froneman.
The court also suspended the declaration of the invalidation of the CPS contract for a period of 12 months from 1 April 2017.
The court ordered that the terms and conditions of the contract shall contain adequate safeguard to ensure that personal data of grant beneficiaries remains private and may not be used for any purpose other than the payment of grants.
Within 30 days of the completion of the period of the contract, CPS must file with the court audited statements of the expenses incurred, income received and net profit earned under the contract.
The court also ordered SASSA to obtain an independent audited verification of the statements provided by CPS. The ordered verification must be approved by National Treasury and the audited verification must be filed by SASSA within a period of 60 days.
The court further ordered CPS to permit auditors appointed by SASSA to have access to its financial information, and that the Minister of Social Development and SASSA must file a report on affidavits with the court every three months.
The report must set out how they plan to ensure the payment of social grants after the contract expires, what steps they have taken in that regard, what further steps they will take and when they will take future steps to ensure that the payment of social grants are made.
Scopa welcomes judgement
Meanwhile, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has welcomed the Constitutional Court judgment.
The committee said the judgment resolves the grant payment crisis that was facing the country and gives practical guidance on the temporary contract to be worked out with CPS.
"Scopa is also happy with the order on the protection of the personal data of grant recipients, which has been abused by CPS for commercial benefit.
"As Scopa, we salute the meticulous and informed manner in which the judges have handled the matter. They vindicated Scopa in almost all aspects of our argument..." Scopa said in a statement.
Scopa also acknowledged and thanked civil society organisations that took up this matter with the Constitutional Court in the interests of the most vulnerable in society.