07/03/2017 05:40 GMT | Updated 15/03/2017 10:02 GMT

Net1's Belamant Says The Sassa Grants Crisis Is Not Their Fault

A week before facing off with Black Sash at the ConCourt, the social grants provider has come out swinging against the NGO

Sandile Ndlovu/Sowetan/Gallo Images

Net1 CEO Serge Belamant said on Monday the time has come to "set the record straight" and defend Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), the company likely to provide social grants to millions of South Africans. Net1 is CPS' parent company.

In an interview with The Times, Belamant said his board had told him that he should "start fighting back and give people facts and let them decide". Belamant told the paper that the CPS was "taking the blame for everything, although we are probably the ones that shouldn't be blamed for anything".

CPS and the Department of Social Development are set to enter into a two year contract for the provision of grants after CPS's current contract ends on March 31.

Specifically, Belamant attacked NGO Black Sash who is challenging CPS's use of personal data of grant beneficiaries which has led to unauthorised deductions from their accounts.

Belamant's interview comes just a week before CPS faces off with Black Sash in the Constitutional Court. Black Sash wants the court to retain oversight of the social grants contract and rule on the use of the personal data of grant recipients.

Belamant told The Times that Black Sash "fundamentally doesn't have a clue what it is talking about".

He said CPS had "paid a price" for providing what he said was the world's best welfare system.

He said the company had paid with its share price and its reputation, which was tarnished by Black Sash.

But Black Sash Trust advocacy manager Elroy Paulus told The Times that grant beneficiaries were at risk because of the kind of deductions that were taking place.

"There is growing evidence that disputed deductions by Sassa beneficiaries have come off their bank accounts including airtime, electricity, loans, and an insurance police. The kind of bank account set up by CPS with Gindrod Bank has shown the vulnerability and potential for unlawful, illegal, immoral deductions happening," he told The Times.