Sassa woes: Dlamini, Bhengu to explain why they should not foot social grants legal bill

2018-03-23 18:41
Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini. (Leon Sadiki, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini. (Leon Sadiki, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

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The Constitutional Court has not taken kindly to the shenanigans of former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini and Sassa acting CEO Pearl Bhengu in the drawn-out social grants saga.

On Friday, the court granted a South African Social Security Services (Sassa) application, allowing Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to continue distributing social grants - by another six months - to beneficiaries who receive their grants in cash. Around 2.8 million beneficiaries - roughly 26% of the scheme, receive their grants in cash.

READ: ConCourt allows extension of Sassa's contract with CPS for six months

However, the court didn't just stop there. It also ordered Dlamini and Bhengu to explain why they should not be held liable for the legal costs, in their personal capacities.

The court has given them an April 16 deadline to explain, via affidavits, why they should not be asked to personally foot the bill.

For a period of six months from April 1, Sassa and CPS must ensure that the social grants paid to beneficiaries in cash, take place on the same terms and conditions as stipulated in the current contract. 

CPS may in writing, request that the National Treasury investigate and make a recommendation regarding the price to be paid for the services it is to render during the six-month period.

Treasury must then file a report with the court, within 21 days of receipt of the request, setting out its recommendation.

A panel of experts appointed by the court will evaluate the implementation of the cash payment of social grants during the six-month period. 

'Not enough time'

Civil rights group Black Sash, which played an integral part in shedding light on the social grants payment crisis, is of the view that the six-month extension is not enough time for Sassa to get a new tender for the cash payment of grants.

"The six-month extension is too tight," a representative told News24, adding that the bidding process for a new contract was frustrated by a lack of detail in the tender that went out.

"The tender process is nowhere. The biding must start from scratch and thereafter an appointment must still be made," she contended.

READ: CPS ordered to pay back R316m to Sassa

Sassa grants executive manager Dianne Dunkerley told the Portfolio Committee on Social Development earlier this month that the bidding process for a replacement for CPS to deliver cash had closed.

She said that a new service provider would be afforded an opportunity to set up and be ready to pay cash grants from July 1.

On Friday morning, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria also ordered CPS to pay back R316m, with interest, to Sassa.

This relates to money Sassa paid to CPS in 2014 when it claimed it enrolled more grant recipients and beneficiaries than it had been contracted to provide services for.

Read more on:    cps  |  sassa  |  pearl bhengu  |  bathabile dlamini  |  judiciary  |  social grants  |  service delivery

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