South Africa 17.4.2018 06:01 am

Bathabile may be forced to foot her own costly legal bill

Then minister of social development, Bathabile Dlamini during the inquiry into the social grants crisis as per the Constitutional Court order at the office of the Chief Justice in Midrand, 22 January 2018.  Picture: Neil McCartney

Then minister of social development, Bathabile Dlamini during the inquiry into the social grants crisis as per the Constitutional Court order at the office of the Chief Justice in Midrand, 22 January 2018. Picture: Neil McCartney

Each time Dlamini has been to court she’s lost the fight, yet the ConCourt has been unable to force her to comply with judicial orders.

Minister of Women Bathabile Dlamini may yet be forced to pay a lot of money in her personal capacity for legal costs incurred during her time as minister of social development.

This follows two Constitutional Court (ConCourt) orders over the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) debacle.

In March 2017, Dlamini was ordered by the court to show why she should not be joined to and pay the costs of the matter between Black Sash Trust and Freedom Under Law and Dlamini.

In the matter between Sassa, the CEO of Sassa and Dlamini, the minister and acting Sassa CEO Pearl Bhengu were supposed to submit their statements by yesterday.

According to Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi, Bhengu had submitted her statement. However, he was unable to speak for Dlamini.

And nor was anyone else. Calls to the department of women were deflected to social development as “that happened during her time there”, according to a spokesperson.

According to the department of women’s website, Monica Zabo is listed as Dlamini’s chief of staff, but Zabo works for current Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu.

The ConCourt was unable to confirm if the statements had arrived, as phones went unanswered.

Each time Dlamini has been to court, she’s lost the fight.

Yet, the ConCourt has been unable to force her, or her department, to comply with judicial orders it issued since 2017 – declaring the agreement between Sassa and Cash Paymaster Services invalid because of the threat of nonpayment to social grant beneficiaries.

With the SA Post Office (Sapo) now in a position to take over ATM payments, the only hitch was for cash payments to be made.

Sapo/Sassa card holders were promised no deductions; three free withdrawals; one free balance inquiry and one free mini-statement per month – a free full statement covering up to a maximum of three months on demand – and a free first replacement card.

The potential failure to effect cash payments would have affected some 2.8 million people across the country, which held the ConCourt over a barrel.

The ConCourt said if anyone wanted to file a response to Dlamini or Bhengu, they should do so by April 25 and gave the two the opportunity to file further statements by April 30.

Also read: Bathabile Dlamini asked Sassa CEO to ‘find dirt’ on banks

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