Bathabile Dlamini pays back the money, settles personal costs order over Sassa debacle

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Former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
Former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
  • In 2018, the Constitutional Court handed down a personal costs order against Bathabile Dlamini over her handling of the appointment of a social grants distributor.
  • Dlamini had failed to pay a 20% portion of the legal costs incurred by the Black Sash Trust and Freedom Under Law in bringing the case against her.
  • The organisations say they have received confirmation that Dlamini has settled a bill of more than R600 000.

Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini has paid the personal costs order handed down against her by the Constitutional Court, the groups who took her to court announced on Thursday.

READ | Bathabile Dlamini faces resistance over calls for ANCWL to support Magashule

The Black Sash Trust, the Centre for the Applied Legal Studies and Freedom Under Law said in a statement that they had been "gratified to note that in the past two weeks the order has now been complied with and Ms Dlamini has paid our costs".

They noted that Dlamini owed around R650 000 to cover the legal costs incurred by Black Sash and Freedom Under Law in bringing the case against the former minister.

Black Sash approached the Constitutional Court over Dlamini and her department's continued failure to appoint a service provider to distribute state grants.

In ruling against the then-minister and the department, the Constitutional Court found Dlamini's conduct "reckless and grossly negligent".

READ | Bathabile Dlamini says 'the best judiciary is the judiciary that listens to the people' - report

She was ordered to pay 20% of the legal costs billed to Black Sash and Freedom Under Law.

Black Sash was represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies.

In February, the Justice Department revealed that the South African Social Services Agency (Sassa) had ordered that Dlamini's pension payments be stopped.

The ANC Women's League president had earlier claimed her pension payouts were stopped due to political interference, an allegation the department described as "without substance and devoid of any truth".

On Thursday, Black Sash national director Lynette Maart said the struggle to advance the right to social security needed to continue.

"We continue to demand that government keep its promises of working towards a universal basic income grant, and we condemn the manner in which the special Covid-19 relief of distress grants and caregiver grants have been brought to an end despite the ongoing state of disaster and unparalleled time of hardship."

Black Sash spokesperson Evashnee Naidu it was only when their legal team threatened to attach Dlamini’s assets if she didn’t pay up that they saw a change.

Nicole Fritz, FUL's chief executive officer, noted that the legal fight over the handling of the Sassa distribution tender was far from over.

"It is essential that government leaders entrusted with such important positions of care and responsibility for those most vulnerable in our society be required to face real reckoning when they so starkly fail to discharge their responsibilities. 

"At the same time, litigation efforts are ongoing to ensure that the private actors involved - specifically Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) - fully comply with the Constitutional Court's orders in the social grants matter."

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