Hands Off Our Grants

Defending the Constitutional right to social protection
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Width: 148MM
Height: 210MM

About the book

Hands off our grants: Defending the constitutional right to social protection examines the root causes of unauthorised, fraudulent and allegedly unlawful deductions from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa)-branded bank accounts into which monthly welfare grants were paid for South Africa’s poorest citizens. South Africa has one of the largest social assistance systems in the world. Today, the livelihoods of millions of poor people, particularly those living in rural and peri urban areas, are dependent on it and it has been lauded as one of the important achievements of the post-apartheid government.

However for seven years, from 2012 when Sassa awarded the tender to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for country-wide distribution of social grants, this welfare system came under attack. This was during the Zuma presidency and was carried out with the alleged complicity of government officials and the Minister of Social Development at the time, Bathabile Dlamini, who now faces perjury charges for her role in the social grant crisis. This is however not another grim state capture tale. In this case the targeted social grant beneficiaries stood their ground. Supported by civil society organisations, they mobilised behind the Black Sash’s Hands Off Our Grants (Hoog) campaign to reclaim their constitutional right to social security.

This is a valuable book because it enables us to understand how vulnerable people – poor, inadequately informed, even illiterate people – were able to defend themselves against exploitation and malpractice. This book is a story of dedication, determination and ultimately victory. However, it also reminds the reader of the need for ongoing monitoring of the use and distribution of state resources, accountability from political leadership, and advocacy around improved public service delivery for those who need it.

About the author

The Black Sash Trust is a 66-year-old veteran human rights organisation advocating for social justice in South Africa. Their mission is to work towards the realisation of socio-economic rights, as outlined in the SA Constitution, with emphasis on social security and social protection for the most vulnerable, to reduce poverty and inequality. They believe the implementation of socio-economic rights demands open, transparent, and accountable governance (state, corporate, and civil society).


Dedication and Acknowledgements Abbreviations

Foreword: Mary Burton

Chapter One: Introduction 

Chapter Two: Experiences of Grant Beneficiaries

Chapter Three: The Ministerial Task Team

Chapter Four: The HOOG Campaign’s Strategic Litigation

Chapter Five: The NET1 Business Model

Chapter Six: Tackling State Capture at SASSA

Chapter Seven: Parliamentary Oversight of SASSA

Chapter Eight: Black Sash’s Advocacy in Partnership

Chapter Nine: Conclusion

Appendix: The Work of the Panel of