22 February 2019 | Media release
The litigious R10 billion contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), which is a Net 1 subsidiary ended in September 2018. In sustaining its characteristic tactics of litigation, the Net 1 stable seemingly didn’t take kindly to the end of this contract and the attendant reduction in revenue, thus another subsidiary called Moneyline Financial Services (Pty) Ltd took SASSA to the North Gauteng High Court in November 2018. What broke the camel’s back is the fact that the new SASSA card doesn’t allow for debits and unscrupulous financial service providers could no longer ride rough shot over social grant beneficiary accounts.
In the space of three months, Moneyline Financial Services (Pty) Ltd submitted three desperate applications to the North Gauteng High Court as part of the lawfare waged against SASSA and lost twice. This includes a bizarre application for an order declaring the SASSA Acting CEO to be jailed for contempt of court, which the Court turned down.
In November 2018 Moneyline was granted interim relief subject to the final judgment being handed down at the end of January 2019 when the interim order lapsed. “These continued bouts of litigation are a clear and unsustainable attempt by Net 1 to rule from the grave through its subsidiaries given the fact that the CPS contract has ended.
It’s interesting to note that Moneyline is not a bank and the banking services for its Easy Pay Everywhere (EPE) card programme are provided by Grindrod bank. Logic dictates that Grindrod should have been the one that brought these matters to Court. Be that as it may, Judge Fabricius ruled against Moneyline at the North Gauteng High Court on 29 January 2019, but in a dramatic turn of events, Moneyline is appealing that judgement and its order. SASSA will oppose the action.
SASSA pays social grants into more than 20 different banks which are chosen by beneficiaries, having provided SASSA with consent in the form of an Annexure C form, in person. It’s anyone’s guess why only one bank card becomes the source of litigation. No other bank has shown an intention to nullify the system that SASSA uses and the relevant legal provisions.
What runs through these rounds of litigation is a desperate attempt to force SASSA to pay certain social grants willy-nilly into the EPE beneficiary card accounts which Moneyline manages. This in SASSA’s view can violate provisions of the Social Assistance Act (2004) Regulations. These regulations make it clear that any beneficiary who wants to receive their grants through their banks (including Grindrod) has to submit their consent to SASSA in person, by completing an annexure C form. Moneyline is trying hard to take short cuts when interpreting the regulations.
A recent judgement by Judge Navza made it clear that the purpose of changing the regulations in May 2016 was to deal with unauthorised deductions made on the accounts of grant beneficiaries. Clearly, if Moneyline was to have its way, we would be back to square one and probably become inundated with beneficiary complaints about unauthorised deductions.
In handing down the January judgement, His Lordship, Justice Fabricius explained that “a Court must determine the meaning of the provision needed to be interpreted by analysing the purpose of the statute and the context of the legislation”. He concurred with SASSA’s interpretation which in his view was consistent with the purpose of the statute and the context of legislation.
In terms of the regulations, a beneficiary can choose to either have their grants paid into their personal bank account or the new SASSA card. In order to have their grants paid into personal bank accounts, beneficiaries have to personally and in writing seek consent from SASSA. On the contrary, Moneyline wants to justify submitting biometric consent to SASSA on behalf of beneficiaries which is contrary to what the law provides for. This issue of interpreting the law in a manner justifying biometric consent as opposed to written consent provided in person by the beneficiary is the key ground of appeal.
The Court was content with the system of SASSA only accepting consent presented to it by beneficiaries in person if they choose to have their grants deposited in their private bank accounts. The court referred to the SASSA system as a statutory system properly authorised.
A beneficiary has the right to change his/her method of payment at any time. If a beneficiary who has an EPE or any other bank account decides to change this to another bank or to SAPO or vice versa in the course of any month, then SASSA will honour this choice in terms of the legislation. Beneficiaries can change their method of payment at any time they wish to, provided they follow the requirements involved.
Issued on behalf of SASSA.
Paseka Letsatsi (SASSA Spokesperson)
082 883 9969