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Corruption Watch tackles Sassa ‘irregular payments’

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Corruption Watch (CW) have again taken the legal route in a bid to force the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to shed light on an alleged ‘irregular payment’ made to affiliate company, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). The organisation filed a second affidavit in September on the matter, off the back of launching an initial review application in March.

The head of CW’s Legal and Investigation units, Leanne Govindsamy said the group were extremely concerned by some of Sassa’s dealings and ‘actions’ in recent years. Referencing a high profile judgement in 2013, she noted that ‘procurement irregularities’ were singled out by the Constitutional Court in relation to the awarding of a Sassa-tender to CPS.

“About two years later when we were following announcements being made about Sassa, we saw another irregular payment being made to Cash Paymaster to the amount of R317m,” she explained. CW’s review application is based on this particular transaction.

CPS’s involvement with Sassa centres on the dispensing of social grants to beneficiaries, done via a card-based system. CPS are also tasked with registering recipients via this system.

But according to Govindsamy, there were several issues of note with the way the company were running the grant dispensation process.

“Another organisation, Black Sash has challenged the way there has been increased deductions from particular grant beneficiaries. The second thing is when it comes to payments being cloak and dagger, we are not seeing the full amounts that are being paid to CPS,” she stated.

When CW approached Sassa for details of the R317m payment, Govindsamy said they were informed it would be used for the reregistration of beneficiaries. But she said this was in stark contradiction to the company’s annual report, which recorded the payment as an ‘administrative expense’.

“We do not know how many other payments have been made down the years that have not been fully disclosed. Yes we know that there is work going on, but we don’t think that we as Corruption Watch, or the people have been made aware of where that money is going to and how these payments are being made,” she declared.

Govindsamy added that once CW were able to view the documents in question, it became abundantly clear that the payment was not properly authorised, and there were a number of irregular procedures in relation to how it was conducted.

“Based on what we’ve seen, just preliminary documents, It seems as if the decision was actually illegal and contrary to the provisions of our own administrative laws,” she concluded. VOC

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