Social Development Dept spent R30m on legal costs since 2013

In a written response to Parliament, the Department of Social Development says most of its legal bills relate to social assistance appeals.

FILE: Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini appeared before Parliament's Standing Commitee on Public Accounts to discuss the contract to pay social grants. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN.

PARLIAMENT - The Social Development Department has spent over R30 million on legal fees since 2013.

This has emerged in a written reply to a Parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance.

In light of the recent social grants debacle, the department has faced questions over travel costs incurred by Minister Bathabile Dlamini and the cost of taking over the payment of social grants.

In a written response to Parliament, the department of Social Development says most of its legal bills relate to social assistance appeals.

But in the two years that the department was faced with a court challenge over its contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), it spent about R23 million on legal fees.

Between 2013 and 2014 it spent R10 million and the next financial year, legal bills amounted to almost R13 million.

The CPS matter concluded in 2014 with the Constitutional Court ruling the contract with South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) invalid.

In 2015, Social Development's legal bill dropped to only R3. 3 million and over the last year, it spent around R3.5 million on legal costs.

At the same time, the Social Development department says Zane Dangor resigned as its Director-General last month because of a breakdown in his working relationship with Dlamini.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)