n South African Journal on Human Rights - Procedural fairness and reasonable administrative action within the social assistance system : implications of some settled class actions

Volume 22, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



This article discusses five High Court class actions brought under the Social Assistance Act 59 of 1992, dealing with the rights to procedurally fair and reasonable administrative action under the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000. The cases have contributed significantly to the shaping of the policies and practices of the administration of social assistance. However, because in each case the state consented to the terms of each court order, these orders have not been reported and are not widely known. The cases deal with the following issues: the right to appeal against the conditional award of a grant; the lapsing of a grant without a hearing where the basis for the lapsing is disputed; the right to a prior investigation before administrative action is taken; unreasonable application requirements; the need for policy guidelines when exercising a discretion affecting fundamental rights and the reasonable content of the right of access to social assistance for people in desperate need. A number of themes emerge from the cases: shortcomings in procedural fairness in the regulations under the Social Assistance Act; the absence of measures to minimise the disruption of benefits where internal remedies arising from the unlawful stoppages of grants are pending; the duty arising from errors in the population register; the state's failure to implement these other court orders; the need to integrate court orders into the state's internal management.

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