Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures
JOHANNESBURG - The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) said that it is in talks with the National Treasury to provide additional funding so that it can comply with a Constitutional Court order and replace Net1 UEPS Technologies as the distributor of more than R150billion of welfare payments a year to at least 17 million people.

Sassa wants funding to finance a pilot project so that it can conduct a trial for the Post Office to make the payments, even though it only has funding to pay Net1, it said in the first progress report ordered by the court so that Net1 is replaced by April next year. 

While the court in 2014 ruled the contract with Net1 was invalid, Sassa failed to find a new service provider. Net1’s contract was extended until 2018 to ensure welfare payments didn’t stop.

The failure of Sassa to comply with the 2014 order and threat to welfare payments this year have caused criticism of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, the government and Net1, which human rights organisations allege has been illegally deducting payments from welfare checks for goods and services.