Pensioners and people with disabilities queue at Falala Community Hall in Soshanguve to receive their social grants. Picture: Oupa Mokoena
Johannesburg – Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s fate is with the Constitutional Court after she filed her affidavit to the court on Monday.

This is according to Lawson Naidoo, executive director of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, who said now that Dlamini had submitted her affidavit to the court, the judges would decide what consequences she would face.

Dlamini was supposed to submit an affidavit on Friday, explaining why she should not be held personally liable for legal costs over the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) payment court wrangle.

On Friday, she claimed she had emailed it to the court in time for the deadline but the files had bounced because they were too big.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s spokesperson, Nathi Mncube, confirmed that Dlamini’s lawyers submitted her affidavit on Monday and that she had also applied for condonation.

“The condonation is with the judges and they will make a decision on the matter,” Mncube said.

Naidoo said: “She just has to wait and see whether the Constitutional Court will accept her application for condonation or not. If they don’t, they can charge her with contempt of court. The court can also ignore her submission.”

This is the third time Dlamini has missed a Constitutional Court deadline.

The first one she missed was a directive to provide answers on why she and the department did not approach the court earlier to inform them about not being ready to pay grants.

She was also expected to provide clarity on who was responsible for the crisis.

She then missed another deadline to explain why she had filed her answers late.

In her affidavit submitted on Monday, Dlamini maintains that the Sassa debacle was not her fault.

While her lawyers were busy with the court submission, Dlamini visited pay centres on the first round of payments since the Constitutional Court ruled that Cash Paymaster Services continue with grant payments for 12 months.

By April 1, Sassa had paid about R3.3 billion and done 6 million transactions.

On Monday, Dlamini apologised to grant recipients for the anxiety caused by the Sassa debacle.

“We apologise about what has happened, and the tension that was part of the whole thing. And we are happy the beneficiaries are going to get their grants,” she said.

But it seems not all was well at all paypoints. DA social development spokesperson Bridget Masango said that at the Rabasatho Community Centre in Tembisa, some recipients did not receive their grants.

Masango said that by 7am, 300 recipients were gathered outside the paypoint, which did not even open.

“The grant recipients were distressed not to be receiving their money. Some gogos went to the paypoint with minibus taxis which they paid for, and many did not have the money for transport to return home,” Masango said.

She said Sassa officials said the grants would be paid on Tuesday. “This comes amid reports nationwide that some grant recipients are short of R4 from their payments this month. Minister Dlamini must urgently explain this and account for some recipients not receiving their grants today,” Masango said.

But Dlamini’s spokesperson Lumka Oliphant rubbished the claims.

She said the Rabasotho centre was not scheduled for payment on Monday. “It is scheduled for payments from April 4 to 7 and beneficiaries were given slips last month that clearly state dates and venues.”

Meanwhile, in Pretoria, anxiety and excitement filled the Falala Community Hall in Soshanguve on Monday as social grant beneficiaries received their money.

Pensioner Joseph Sibiya, 75, said he wanted his money come hell or high water.

He said he told himself from the beginning that whatever happened with Sassa, he was going to wake early to collect his money at the hall. “All I knew was that I wanted my money.”

He said his entire family depended on the social grant. Sibiya uses the grant money to take care of his two children and three grandchildren, buy food and pay water and electricity bills.

The Star