Corruption Watch celebrates the ruling in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) today when it upheld the ruling of the North Gauteng High Court that ordered Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to repay R316-million to the South Africa Social Services Agency (Sassa).

The matter involved the lawfulness of a variation agreement, which sought to include the verification and registration of children beneficiaries, and authorise the additional payment to CPS.

Corruption Watch approached the North Gauteng High Court in March 2015 to review and set aside the variation agreement and the decision to pay R316 million to CPS. The High Court ruled in the organisation’s favour on 23 March 2018, setting aside the variation agreement and ordering CPS to repay Sassa the amount plus interest. CPS appealed the decision and the SCA heard the matter on 10 September 2019.

The SCA held that the original agreement concluded between Sassa and CPS included the registration of recipients and beneficiaries; therefore it already included children. Accordingly, there was no lawful basis to vary the agreement to include beneficiaries and no lawful basis for the decision to pay CPS the R 316 million. The court held that CPS must repay this amount to Sassa.

In noting Sassa’s duty to deliver social grants in a manner that respects the dignity of grant recipients, the court stated that Sassa has an obligation to do so in a “fiscally responsible manner – as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible with systems in place to avoid fraud, duplication of payments and corrupt payments.”

David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, commented: ‘This is a very important judgment. Let it be noted by those who enter into agreements with the state that are either corrupt or do not follow the rules governing public procurement that they will be required to pay back money received in this way. This judgment affirms the important watchdog role that civil society organisations like Corruption Watch play in ensuring integrity and accountability in the procurement process.’

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