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‘Evasive’ and ‘reckless’ Dlamini due back in court in perjury case

The perjury case against ANC Women’s League president and former minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini is set to be heard on Friday.

Dlamini is alleged to have lied under oath while giving testimony during an inquiry instituted by the Constitutional Court in 2018 to investigate the social grant payments flop involving the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). Retired Judge Bernard Ngoepe presided over this inquiry. 

Black Sash Trust and Freedom Under Law submitted evidence that the former minister had failed in her duty to ensure that Sassa was equipped to take over the payment of social grants, after an existing contract with Cash Paymaster Services was declared invalid.

In his inquiry, the judge described Dlamini’s conduct as being “reckless” and “grossly negligent”. She was also ordered to pay part of the costs of litigation of the organisations that took her to court.

A report after the inquiry, which was filed by Ngoepe to the Constitutional Court, found that Dlamini didn’t fail only in her work, but also failed to disclose information to the court for fear of being held liable for the crisis.

He described Dlamini as an evasive witness, who kept answering questions with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember, even on matters she had presided over in her capacity as minister.

“It is difficult to understand how the minister could have justifiably leave out the issue of the appointment of streams, their role, who appointed them, when and to who they reported; especially when she was the one who had instructed that they be appointed, and identified specific individuals to be appointed,” Ngoepe said in his report.

The report also alleged that Dlamini was an evasive witness.

In September 2018 the Constitutional Court ordered Dlamini to pay a portion of the legal costs brought by Black Sash and Freedom Under Law. 

The court also ordered that the report and the judgment be forwarded to the national director of public prosecutions at the National Prosecuting Authority to consider whether Dlamini should be criminally prosecuted for perjury.  

In August, the Wits Centre for Legal Studies said Black Sash and Freedom Under Law had been informed that the director of public prosecutions at the Gauteng division had decided to prosecute Dlamini for perjury.

The former minister made her first appearance in the Johannesburg magistrate’s court on 1 September, and the case was postponed to 1 October.

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Chris Gilili
Chris Gilili is a climate and environmental journalist at the Mail & Guardian’s environmental unit, covering socioeconomic issues and general news. Previously, he was a fellow at amaBhungane, the centre for investigative journalism.

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