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'Serious but sad' ruling on Dlamini aims to prevent repeat of crisis

The former social development minister was on Thursday slapped with a damning judgment, ordering her to pay 20% of the legal fees of human rights organisations.

FILE: Minister Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court says it’s made “the serious but sad” decision to personally hold Minister Bathabile Dlamini financially liable for the social grants fiasco in order to prevent a repeat of the crisis in future.

The former social development minister was on Thursday slapped with a damning judgment, ordering her to pay 20% of the legal fees of human rights organisations the Black Sash and Freedom Under Law.

It also ordered that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) determine whether she should be charged with perjury for lying under oath at the Ngoepe Commission of Inquiry where she failed to disclose her role in creating the crisis.

The Constitutional Court says normally when the courts make costs orders, they don’t make judgments on the political accountability of public officials.

But in this matter, serious allegations were levelled against the minister.

Justice Johan Froneman says it’s a “sorry saga” and Dlamini must account for her actions.

“It would account on her degree of culpability in misleading this court more so since she holds a position of responsibility as a member of the executive. Her conduct is amicable to the values of the underpinning the Constitution that she undertook to uphold when she took up office.”

The court has ordered the Social Development Department, the CEO of South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Sassa itself to pay for the remaining 80% of the legal fees incurred.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)