Le­gal bat­tle over mil­lions far from over

New court bid launched to re­cover R74m from com­pany un­law­fully con­tracted to pay so­cial grants

Pretoria News - - NATION -

THE SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency (Sassa’s) long-run­ning le­gal bat­tle over mil­lions it is owed by the com­pany pre­vi­ously un­law­fully con­tracted to pay so­cial grants, Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices (CPS), ap­pears to be far from over.

Sassa has launched a new court bid to re­cover an­other R74 mil­lion from the con­tro­ver­sial sub­sidiary of Net1.

The agency says CPS owes it the money it in­voiced claim­ing to have paid nearly 4.55 mil­lion so­cial grants re­cip­i­ents in Fe­bru­ary and March 2018 just be­fore the SA Post Of­fice (Sapo) took over the func­tion.

In turn, CPS has de­manded that Sassa pro­vide the con­trac­tual ba­sis upon which the claim is based, ac­cord­ing to So­cial Developmen­t Min­is­ter Lindiwe Zulu.

Sassa in­di­cated that the con­tract in ques­tion was signed with CPS in 2012 for the pay­ment of so­cial grant ser­vices af­ter the com­pany de­manded that the agency pro­vide the ba­sis for claim­ing R74m.

The claim is still pend­ing for ar­gu­ments in court.

Zulu re­vealed de­tails of the law­suit in an­swers to DA MP Brid­get Masango’s par­lia­men­tary ques­tions.

Masango had de­manded an up­date on the sta­tus of all court cases Zulu’s de­part­ment brought against CPS.

The law­suit comes as CPS has ap­proached the Con­sti­tu­tional Court to avoid pay­ing more than R316m it was or­dered to pay back to Sassa by the Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria, in March 2018 even though the agency had no proper ba­sis for con­clud­ing that the amount was cor­rect.

Sassa paid the R316m in 2014 af­ter ini­tially con­ced­ing that it should with­hold 20% of the amount un­til an au­dit had been com­pleted.

The high court found that Sassa’s de­ci­sion to pay R316m to CPS was un­law­ful and in­valid and or­dered the money to be re­paid with in­ter­est.

CPS then ap­proached the Supreme Court of Ap­peal (SCA) in re­spect of a vari­a­tion agree­ment it en­tered ver­bally with Sassa.

The SCA dis­missed CPS’s ap­peal. The com­pany also claimed it was en­ti­tled to the R316m be­cause the en­rol­ment of chil­dren as so­cial grants ben­e­fi­cia­ries was not part of its ini­tial scope of work.

In his found­ing af­fi­davit filed at the Con­sti­tu­tional Court as part of CPS’s ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal the SCA judg­ment, its di­rec­tor Nun­thaku­marin Pil­lay said the com­pany was ap­peal­ing the de­ci­sion of the coun­try’s sec­ond high­est court on the ba­sis that the com­pany and Sassa were ex­pressly re­quired by cer­tain clauses of their con­tract to vary the agree­ment to pro­vide for the en­rol­ment of chil­dren.

“The pro­vi­sions carved out the regis­tra­tion of chil­dren as an ad­di­tional func­tion sub­ject to a sep­a­rate re­mu­ner­a­tion regime. There was thus a law­ful ba­sis for the vari­a­tion agree­ment,” reads Pil­lay’s af­fi­davit.

He in­sisted that CPS in­curred costs as a re­sult of the ad­di­tional costs and reg­is­tered more than dou­ble the num­ber of ben­e­fi­cia­ries ini­tially planned in terms of the pro­posal.

Non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Cor­rup­tion Watch, which launched the ini­tial suc­cess­ful high court chal­lenge to force CPS to pay back the R316m and op­poses its Con­sti­tu­tional Court ap­peal, says the com­pany main­tains it is en­ti­tled to the ad­di­tional R316m in pub­lic funds even though the SCA rightly found the ser­vices it was paid for were al­ready cov­ered by the agree­ment be­tween it (CPS) and Sassa and by the bil­lions of rand it re­ceived.

Zulu said the of­fi­cial who au­tho­rised the R316m (pay­ment) was no longer em­ployed by Sassa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.