Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini’s perjury trial is set to start next month.
Dlamini appeared in the Johannesburg Regional Court on Friday, when her counsel, advocate Tshepiso Mpahlane, raised an objection to the way in which the state had handled her case.
In particular, he criticised the involvement of the Hawks, arguing this was unlawful and in contravention of the Saps Act, which mandated the elite unit to prevent, combat and investigate “national priority offences” – and the fact that the case was not being heard in a lower court, despite relating to a relatively minor charge.
In response, the state pointed out that the Saps Act also provided for the Hawks to handle “any other offence or category of offences” and that it was up to the state to decide how it ran its trials.
And, in the end, Magistrate Betty Khumalo ruled there was no merit to the objections.
In 2018, the Constitutional Court slapped Dlamini with a hefty personal costs order – which she only ended up paying this year – over what it described as, at best, her “reckless and grossly negligent” conduct in the case The Black Sash brought against her over the saga.
This after the state’s failure to appoint a new grants facilitator after its contract with Cash Paymaster Services was declared invalid, almost left some 17 million grant beneficiaries high and dry.
After the ConCourt’s initial ruling – which saw it find in favour of The Black Sash and make an order for, among others, the payments to proceed – an inquiry was instituted to probe Dlamini’s role in the crisis and help the
bench come to a conclusion on the issue of costs.
Inquiry chair Judge Bernard Ngoepe found Dlamini to have been “evasive”, as well as that she had not disclosed certain information specifically for fear of being held personally liable.
And in the end, not only did the ConCourt issue her with a personal costs order, it also referred his report to the country’s prosecuting authorities to establish if she had lied under oath and should be prosecuted.
In a letter Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock sent earlier this year to the Centre for Applied Legal Studies – which represented the Black Sash in the ConCourt case – he said a decision had since
been taken to prosecute Dlamini “of perjury, alternatively contravening section 38(5)(b) of the Superior Courts Act 10 of 2013 (giving false evidence)”.
Her trial is set down from 26 November.