Magistrate rejects State's attempts to postpone Bathabile Dlamini's trial until 'sometime next year'

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  • The prosecutor in Bathabile Dlamini's perjury case failed to convince the magistrate to postpone the case until "sometime next year".
  • Dlamini's lawyer was opposed to the delay and accused the State of abusing its power.
  • The magistrate then postponed the case until Friday.

Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini's perjury case in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court has been postponed until Friday.

This is despite prosecutor advocate Jacob Serepo requesting that the matter be postponed until "sometime next year".

He told court that after consulting with a witness on Wednesday, the State had decided not to call her to testify.

Serepo added that the only other state witness, former South African Social Security Agency CEO Thokozani Magwaza, was currently in KwaZulu-Natal, and the State would have to make travel and accommodation arrangements for him.

READ | CPS has still not revealed how much profit it made from social grants contract

Serepo said the process of arranging travel and accommodation might take about three weeks.

However, Dlamini's lawyer, advocate Tshepiso Mphahlane, was opposed to the delay. He said the State should have consulted with witnesses when the trial date was announced.

He also accused the State of abusing its power.

Magistrate Betty Khumalo was visibly not impressed with the delays, saying she was not seeing "any efforts on the side of the State to secure witnesses".

"I am not convinced that the State has put in efforts," she said, adding that there was also no effort in ensuring that Magwaza was in court.

After taking some few minutes to decide on the matter, the magistrate decided to postpone the case until Friday. She said the State should ensure that it secures its witness.

Dlamini appeared in court on Thursday.

She pleaded not guilty to perjury on Wednesday in a case related to her testimony during an inquiry that the Constitutional Court had instituted into her role in the 2017 social grants crisis.

In her plea explanation, Dlamini denied that she had intentionally lied and given false evidence.

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