Social grants scandal: Ex-minister Bathabile Dlamini’s perjury trial starts


Former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is accused of lying under oath during an inquiry into the 2016 social grants saga

The perjury trial against former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is expected to get underway in the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 24 November 2021. Dlamini is accused of lying under oath during an inquiry into the social grants saga that was instituted by the Constitutional Court in 2017.

The company Cash Paymaster Services’ (CPS) contract with the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to distribute the grants had expired and was renewed on several occasions. Dlamini was accused of not properly presiding over the matter and failing to ensure that Sassa was better equipped to take over the issuing of payments to grant recipients.

In September 2018, the highest court in the land found that Dlamini had been negligent in her handling of the crisis and ordered her to pay a portion of the costs of litigation brought by the organisations Black Sash and Freedom Under Law (FUL).

“Subsequent to this ruling that ordered that it’s judgement, together with Judge Ngoepe’s inquiry report be forwarded to the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) for consideration of criminal liability, the NDPP directed that the matter be dealt with by the office of the DPP,” said NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane.

Dlamini’s first day in trial: What can be expected?

Bathabile Dlamini is expected to state her plea on the first day of trial – likely proclaiming her innocence to the presiding judge.

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies’ Ariella Scher, which represented Black Sash in the matter, has hailed the decision to prosecute Bathabile Dlamini, stressing that such a move sends a strong message that everyone is equal before the law and even those occupying some of our highest offices must be held accountable for their actions.

Black Sash’s executive director Rachel Bukasa says 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.

“The Black Sash remains committed to its goal to ensure that the right to social security is fully realised. While are pleased that the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant has been reinstated with the eligibility criteria expanded to include unemployed caregivers, we will continue to advocate for permanent social assistance for the unemployed while a universal basic income remains the ultimate aim,” Bukasa said.


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