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Corruption Watch application against Sassa back in court

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Corruption Watch application against Sassa back in court

22nd February 2018

By: African News Agency

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An application by civil organisation Corruption Watch (CW) asking the court to set aside South African Social Services Agency (Sassa) decision to pay Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) R317-million is to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday.

The organisation first brought the application in 2015.

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After initially opposing the CW application, Sassa withdrew its opposition in 2017, leaving CPS as the only respondent.

Responding to CW on its reasons for withdrawing from the case, Sassa said the officials who initially took the decision to pay CPS had left Sassa, adding that the decision was a ''responsible conduct to avoid incurring wasteful expenditure''.

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CPS said a look into the payment and on-site inspections revealed that there were serious irregularities surrounding the payment and the re-registration process.

''The reasons provided by Sassa to explain this payment were unfathomable to say the least. The initial contract between Sassa and CPS, concluded in 2012 and since set aside by the Constitutional Court, clearly provided for the registration of all beneficiaries but not for a re-registration process,” said CW.

“We were unable to find any contractual basis for the payment and no new contract had been concluded between the parties which could have justified the payment.''

The payment was made by former Sassa CEO Virginia Petersen, who resigned in 2016.

The grants crisis saw rights group Black Sash and Freedom Under Law (FUL) taking the department to the Constitutional Court to ensure that over 17 million beneficiaries continued to receive grants, after the court ruled in 2014 that the CPS contract to dispense grants was invalid.

In March 2017, the Constitutional Court ordered that Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), continue to pay grants for a further twelve months, after it was found that Sassa was unable to meet the deadline and take over grant payments.

The debacle led to a Constitutional Court-mandated commission of inquiry into Social Development minister Bathabile Dlamini's conduct and whether she should be held personally liable for legal costs incurred.

The commission is chaired by retired Judge Barnard Ngoepe and will resume at the Office of the Chief Justice next month.

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