Former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) described Thursday's Constitutional Court costs order against former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini as a warning to all public office bearers. 

“We applaud the Concourt’s impartiality in this matter and its courage in holding this disgraced former minister to account. We hope this ends Dlamini’s career as a flagrant abuser of human rights. We also applaud the Black Sash and Freedom Under Law for seeing this case through,” said Dominique Msibi, OUTA’s portfolio manager for special projects. 

“We welcome the Concourt’s dismissal of Dlamini’s argument that the separation of powers meant she could be held to account only by Parliament, not the Court. This sends a clear and welcome message to political office bearers that they can indeed be held to account in such circumstances.” 

In a unanimous judgment, the Constitutional Court ordered that Dlamini be held personally liable for 20 percent of the Black Sash and Freedom Under the Law’s legal costs in the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants saga. 

The rest of their legal costs must be paid by the Minister of Social Development, the SASSA CEO and SASSA in their official capacities. 

The court also ordered the National Director of Public Prosecutions to determine whether Dlamini lied under oath and should thus be prosecuted for perjury, because she misled the court to protect herself. 

“It is about time that we see this kind of ruling to hold corrupt public officials to account for their unsavoury actions. This is a victory for those who depend on social grants and for those who have fought tirelessly for Bathabile Dlamini to answer for her irrational actions,” said Msibi. 

Msibi again called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Dlamini from her current position as Minister of Women in the Presidency. In May, Msibi wrote to the President calling for Dlamini, who currently holds the position of minister in the presidency responsible for women, to be dismissed.

“There is no justification for keeping her in the Cabinet,” she said. 

“The chickens have finally come home to roost. Dlamini has been operating with arrogance and impunity, disregarding and blatantly flouting several orders by the Constitutional Court. Let this be an example to all who contravene the laws of our country, that their reign of terror has come to an end.” 

Msibi said the court’s comment that the ministerial office “demands a greater commitment to ethical behaviour and requires a high commitment to public service” was a warning that public office bearers should not take lightly. 

African News Agency/ANA