Minister Bathabile Dlamini Picture: Ntswe Mokoena/GCIS

Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court will have to decide whether former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini should be held personally liable for the Sassa grants crisis following remarks that she was an “evasive witness”.

Judge Bernard Ngoepe submitted his report on his findings following an inquiry into the Sassa grants crisis. 

Ngoepe painted a bleak picture of Dlamini as a witness and said she was evasive in her answers and in some instances, she would simply not answer questions posed to her.

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“She was evasive to some questions and would answer questions with questions,” said Ngoepe.

The judge also said that Dlamini would give long answers that did not relate to questions asked. 

Dlamini answered questions in isiZulu during the inquiry and questions had to be interpreted for her in isiZulu, yet she still did not give satisfying answers.

Legal councils from opposing benches which included the Black Sash, continuously had to ask Ngoepe to intervene during proceedings to force Dlamini to answer the questions posed to her. 

The inquiry was established by the Constitutional Court to figure out whether Dlamini should be held personally responsible for the Sassa grants crisis.

Dlamini was asked about the workstreams that she appointed which cost the department R40 million. The workstreams were labelled as “useless” by some as they did parallel work already done by Sassa employees.

She was accused by former Sassa CEO Bongani Magwaza and director general Zane Dangor of frustrating the process of meeting the deadline set by the Constitutional Court to distribute social grants.

It all started in 2012 with an illegal contract that was awarded to CPS by Sassa for the provision of social grants. The Constitutional Court ruled that this contract was unlawful and that Sassa should make should reissue its tender. But in 2015, Sassa said it would not issue a tender but would instead personally take-over the distribution of social grants. 

As the deadline loomed for the end of the contract with CPS, Sassa told the court that it would not be able to take over the payment of social grants as it was not ready. This led to the March 2017 decision where the Constitutional Court was left with no choice but to extend the CPS contract for a further six months.

In March, the Constitutional Court yet again extended the contract between CPS and Sassa for a further six months. 

The DA says Ngoepe’s report is enough evidence that President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Dlamini, who is now the minister of women in the presidency.

“President Ramaphosa can no longer run around this issue and must do the right thing. Judge Ngoepe’s findings combined with her dismal track record is sufficient grounds for her to be fired from Cabinet,” said the party.

Political Bureau