Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures
Pretoria - Corruption Watch (CW) welcomed the judgment handed down by Gauteng High Court, Pretoria Judge Moroa Tsoka on Friday, ordering Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to pay back, in full, the R316 447 361.41 received from the South African Social Services Agency (Sassa), with interest accrued since June 2014 until the date of payment.

The public watch body turned to court last month for an order setting aside the decision of Sassa to pay R317-million to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) regarding the registration and payment of grant beneficiaries.

In a  damning judgment, the judge found that the payment was unlawful and affected for ulterior purposes or motive. She also said the payment is not rationally connected with the purpose for which it was made.

Judge Tsoka said: “As a result of Sassa’s unlawful conduct, the fiscus has been robbed of a substantial amount of money intended for the most vulnerable and poor people of our country. The fiscus is poorer as it did not receive fair value for what it paid.”

“It is just and equitable that the payment of R316 447 361 made by Sassa to CPS, together with interest, be returned to the fiscus for the benefit of those for whom it was intended in the first place. This, in my view, is a just and equitable remedy that would effectively vindicate the fair process violated by the parties. The remedy would entrench the rule of law.”

Advocate Steven Budlender, acting for CW, earlier argued that the decision taken by Sassa to vary a services contract with CPS for the distribution of social grant payments to the poorest of society, was at the heart of this case.

CW argued that the variation, which resulted in Sassa paying CPS R317 m, was unlawful. Budlender said the money was paid in circumstances where the parties had not even agreed a cost for the varied services and where Sassa had failed to establish that this amount was even owed to CPS. “This is irrational,” he said.

Judge Tsoka agreed with these arguments and said this payment was unreasonable and made without any valid reasons.

“This judgment reinforces the immense importance of procurement processes as a bulwark against corruption and maladministration,” said David Lewis, Corruption Watch’s executive director.

“However, while we are confined to reviewing administrative irregularities, we have long called on the criminal justice authorities to investigate the relationship between CPS, Sassa and the social development ministry.

"We repeat that call, as we do our call for the International Finance Corporation to review its significant shareholding in a company that conducts itself in the manner that CPS does.”

Pretoria News