SASSA and former CEO Pearl Bhengu slapped with legal costs in CPS extension

Urgency of agency's application 'self-created', says Judge Leona Theron

SASSA and former CEO slapped with legal costs in CPS extension

30 August 2018

The SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) and its former CEO Pearl Bhengu were ordered by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) on Thursday to pay costs for the 2018 application for the extension of the contract of private company Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

This relates to an application by SASSA for a six-month extension for the payment of cash grants by CPS in March this year. The extension expires in September.

Around 2.8 million beneficiaries - roughly 26% of the social grants scheme - receive their grants in cash.

SASSA brought the application because it was concerned that it would not be able to distribute cash payments to recipients as its newly appointed distributor, the SA Post Office (Sapo), was not able to do so. The extension was granted by the ConCourt on March 23.

In the ruling delivered by Justice Leona Theron, the court ruled that the urgency of SASSA's application was "self-created".

Bhengu is liable for costs in her official capacity as former SASSA acting CEO, not in her personal capacity.

The ConCourt judgment on whether former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini should be held personally liable for legal costs incurred in the social grants debacle is still pending.

The court ordered in March last year that Dlamini should explain why she should not personally pay the legal costs of the social grants case.

In 2014, the court ruled that the contract the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) had signed with social grants distributor Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) two years prior was illegal and invalid.