The Constitutional Court has reserved judgment in the urgent application brought by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to have its contract with grants distributor, Cash Paymaster Services, extended by six months.

The contract between CPS and Sassa, which was entered into in 2012‚ was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in 2014.  The contract expires at the end of March.

The Constitutional Court heard that should the controversial contract not be renewed before it ends, millions of social grants recipients will suffer.

In his submission on behalf of Sassa, Advocate Nazeer Kassim told the court that the six-month extension being sought will allow for a “phasing-in‚ phasing-out” period to migrate the payment system to the South African Post Office.

However, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng questioned the timing of the application and why its being brought few weeks before the contract expires at the end of March.

“Why did you not immediately, considering what conspired during the previous court case, approach the court and say I see danger coming our way.”

Black Sash, which is the respondent in the matter, says they are not opposed to the extension, but has asked the court to exercise its supervisory function over the matter.

Advocate representing Black Sash, Jeff Budlender, says, “These, I submit are not ordinary adversarial proceedings. They are closely linked to and part of the courts supervisory jurisdiction that it took on when it saw the difficulty. It is part of the court’s attempt to ensure that 17 million vulnerable beneficiaries (get paid).”

Cash Paymaster Services says they have no problems with the deal with Sassa and they are prepared to renew their contract for the next six months.

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