FORMER minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Etienne Creux
FORMER minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Etienne Creux

‘Reckless’ Bathabile Dlamini to be prosecuted for perjury

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Sep 21, 2021

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FORMER minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini is expected to appear at the Joburg regional court on Tuesday after the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in Gauteng decided to criminally prosecute her for perjury.

The charges relate to her testimony during an inquiry the Constitutional Court instituted into her role in the 2017 social grants crisis.

When the DPP decided to prosecute her last month for perjury or giving false evidence, the Black Sash Trust and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (Cals) welcomed the decision.

They said the decision sends the message that everyone is equal before the law and public officials must be held accountable for their actions.

Early in 2018, Judge Bernard Ngoepe oversaw an inquiry established by the Constitutional Court into the then minister’s role in the social grants crisis the previous year.

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies represented the Black Sash Trust at the inquiry and presented evidence that the minister had failed in her duties to ensure that Sassa was equipped to take over paying grants when an invalid contract with Cash Paymaster Services came to an end.

Judge Ngoepe later filed a report on the inquiry with the Constitutional Court which found the minister had not only failed in her duties but had also failed to disclose information to the court for fear of being held liable for the crisis in her personal capacity.

The report described Dlamini as an “evasive” witness, answering simple questions with, “I don’t know”, or “I don’t remember”, or simply failing to answer.

The Constitutional Court handed down judgment in September 2018, finding Dlamini’s conduct had been “reckless and grossly negligent” and ordering her to pay a portion of the costs of litigation brought by the Black Sash, represented by Cals, and joined by Freedom Under Law, in an effort to protect the grants system.

The court further ordered that this judgment and Judge Ngoepe’s report be forwarded to the national director of public prosecutions to consider whether Dlamini lied under oath and should be prosecuted for perjury.

“This is a significant moment for holding public officials personally accountable for the execution of their duties and to protect the integrity of the social security system,” Rachel Bukasa, executive director at the Black Sash Trust said.

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Political Bureau

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