Bathabile Dlamini Photo: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
The Constitutional Court will today hear closing arguments in an inquiry into former minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini’s liability for the SA Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) failures.

The Black Sash Trust, together with Freedom Under Law, took Dlamini to court to determine whether she should personally bear litigation costs after Sassa had to “at the 11th hour” apply to the court for a six-month extension with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to continue to provide payments to beneficiaries.

The court had previously declared the contract invalid, but suspended the declaration to ensure there was no disruption in the payment of social grants.

The Cape Times sister publication The Sunday Independent yesterday reported that at least six million Sassa grant recipients were in danger of not getting their money from April 1 when the contract with CPS ends.

Black Sash is arguing that Dlamini did not approach the court timeously when they realised they needed more time to come up with an alternative, and instead waited two months before bringing that application.

The inquiry before the country’s apex court is held in terms of section 38 of the Superior Courts Act 10 of 2013.

It is charged with determining a number of questions intended to inform the court’s determination on whether Dlamini should bear the legal costs for Black Sash.

In their heads of argument, Black Sash Trust said Sassa informed the court at the 11th hour that it would be unable to meet its undertaking to in-source the payments of social grants by April 1.

“The court then ordered the minister to show cause on affidavit on or before March 31, 2017, why, as the person bearing ultimate responsibility for Sassa, she should not be joined in her personal capacity and pay the costs of the application out of her own pocket.

“In the minister’s affidavit dated March 31, 2017, she attributed the delays in implementing the payment of social grants partly to the turnover of leadership within Sassa and partly to (Thokozani) Magwaza’s failure to comprehensively engage with her,” their papers read.

Dlamini argued in papers before the court that while she did seek the appointment of work streams, it was at the consequence of recommendations of the ministerial advisory committee.

“The work streams did not report directly to the minister but did report to Sassa exco (Zodwa) Mvulane, who in turn kept the minister updated.

"The minister did not inform the Constitutional Court of the existence of the work streams in her March 31, 2017 affidavit because she was asked to address two narrow issues: first, why she should not be joined as a party to the proceedings; and second, why she should not be ordered to pay the costs of the application out of her own pocket.”

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