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Sassa to appeal ruling allowing deductions from grant recipients

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CAPE TOWN – The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will be appealing a court ruling allowing deductions from bank accounts of grant beneficiaries.

In the judgment two weeks ago, the High Court in Pretoria said the 2016 amendments to regulations did not restrict beneficiaries from authorising electronic debits on Grindrod bank accounts.

This after Net1 Technologies, which owns Cash Paymaster Services, challenged government's decision to prohibit direct deductions.

Briefing Parliament's portfolio committee on social development earlier on Friday, Sassa chief executive officer Thokozani Magwaza said the ruling is a blow to the agency.

“They did not have power over this, and the regulation that the minister and the Department of Social Development used to curb that has been nullified in terms of the judge.”

Magwaza adds the Department of Social Development and Sassa are appealing the decision.

“We think that the judge has erred in the judgment, especially that in one of the orders of the Constitutional Court spoke about the data and who it belongs to. That court order and that of the ConCourt are contradictory.”

At the same time, Sassa said it wants to prevent, especially child grants, from being used for anything other than food or necessities.

SASSA officials told MPs the agency's considering regulations to enforce this.

Grants currently don't have conditions attached once they are paid out and beneficiaries can use the money as they see fit.

But Sassa is in discussion with the Department of Social Development about introducing regulations to control the use of funds.

The agency also wants to increase the number of grants from 17.1 million to just over 17.5 million by the end of the 2017/18 financial year.

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