The sentencing of former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini, convicted of perjury, demonstrates that the justice system is capable of dealing fittingly with criminality in high places.
That’s the view of Freedom Under Law (FUL) which on Sunday said it was gratified that its efforts to clean up the mess at the Social Security Agency of SA (Sassa) had borne some fruit.
“The sentence underlines the seriousness of the offence of which she was convicted,” the legal non-profit organisation said in a statement.
“Essentially, perjury is lying to a court. That she, a minister, was untruthful was all the more deplorable. Had she succeeded in her dishonesty, and prevented the Constitutional Court from effectively resolving the social grants crisis, beneficiaries would have been even more vulnerable. Moreover, the elaborate and complex court process would have been wasted — at taxpayers’ expense.”
Dlamini faced a charge of perjury after allegedly giving false evidence during her testimony under oath at an inquiry instituted by the Constitutional Court in 2018 into the Sassa fiasco, TimesLIVE reported previously.
The matter dates back to a tender to pay out social grants awarded to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) that expired but was renewed repeatedly. Dlamini was accused of failing to make sure Sassa was capacitated to pay out social grants after the contract with CPS expired. The court was forced to extend the contract even though it had been found to be illegal.
In a unanimous judgment, the ConCourt found her personally liable for 20% of the costs of the Black Sash and Freedom Under Law‚ including the costs of two counsel.
“Nobody can be pleased to see a once powerful person humbled. But Freedom Under Law is gratified that its ongoing battle to clean up the mess at Sassa has borne some fruit. More importantly, Friday’s sentencing … demonstrates that our justice system is capable of dealing fittingly with criminality in high places,” said FUL.
Bathabile Dlamini was found guilty of perjury and sentenced to four years in prison, half suspended, with the option of a R200,000 fine. File photo.