We thought it would be easier - Dlamini 'disappointed' by Net1 ruling

Bathabile Dlamini (File, Rapport)
Bathabile Dlamini (File, Rapport)

Cape Town - Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini says she is disappointed that the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled that Net1 can continue to make deductions from recipient's social grants.

Acting Judge Corrie van der Westhuizen on Tuesday ordered that amendments to regulations governing the payment of social grants should not hinder deductions from being made from beneficiaries' bank accounts.

Dlamini told MPs on Wednesday that the problem of legal deductions has been an issue they have fought against for a while, and admitted they thought the issue would be easier.

"Yes, I am disappointed. We've been fighting about this for a long time," she told the portfolio committee on social development.

"People that are milked are ordinary people from rural areas and townships. It's ordinary South Africans who can't go to the bank. In the banks there are no marshals around there."

READ: Sassa still has 50 000 deduction complaints to deal with - Dlamini

Dlamini said they have fought a "dignified fight" to have a better space for pension pay out points too.

"When we saw [deductions] happening, we started looking at how it came into effect. We've also been to the national credit regulator, fighting the same thing."

Her department has learnt to read their future agreements more carefully.

South African Social Security Agency CEO Thokozani Magwaza said they will appeal the judgment, saying there are issues he did not consider in his ruling.

'Not good enough'

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Liesl van der Merwe said her admission was not good enough, and that somebody should be held accountable for the contract with Net1.

Committee chairperson Rose Capa said they didn't have time to go in depth into the ruling, as the committee was due to discuss Sassa's annual plan.

Opposition MPs said they need another meeting with Dlamini to discuss other issues around the ruling.

On Tuesday, Dlamini told the National Council of Provinces that more than 50 000 grant beneficiary complaints were still incomplete as they were waiting for affidavits from complainants.

Sassa had received 95 429 disputes from grant beneficiaries from April 2016 to February 2017.

"Most are about airtime and prepaid electricity [deductions]. We've been able to resolve 10 067 cases," Dlamini said during a question session to the social services cluster.

She did not explain the status of the remaining 35 000.

Lawyers for NGO Black Sash on Tuesday said the ruling was "devastating", and gave companies free reign to continue deducting from people's grants.

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