Johannesburg - A full bench of judges at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday reserved judgment on the request from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to have its controversial contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) - to pay welfare grants to millions of beneficiaries -- extended by six months.
"If you knew as early as December 8 that the extension for cash payment of social grant would be required, why wait until February to launch application? “Why make it seem like you want to bind the court to an extension with CPS?" Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng asked.
Almost 2.5 million beneficiaries will not get their grant payments if the contract with CPS is not extended, the agency argued in court papers. The contract that CPS has with Sassa expires on March 31.
Mogoeng said that Sassa should have immediately approached the court while there was still time for other options.
Sassa failed to adequately explain to the Constitutional Court why it waited until the last hour before requesting an extension of the invalid CPS contract.
"We are expressing our frustration [because] there is unlawfulness perpetuated while we watch, its like we are being laughed at by Sassa and CPS, is just sad," Mogoeng said.
Mogoeng accused Sassa of trying to blackmail the Constitutional Court in requesting an extension.
If Sassa succeeds, this will be their second extension of their contract with CPS following last year's court order where the Constitutional Court ruled that Sassa would be granted an extension of its contract with CPS for a further 12 months.
In 2012, Sassa contacted with CPS to pay social grants on its behalf, but the contract was later declared invalid.
The order of invalidity was suspended and the court assumed a supervisory role in the matter while the court also ordering Sassa to provide provide quarterly reports describing the steps and progress it had made to ensure that it would be able to pay social grants after March 31.
African News Agency/ANA