Bathabile Dlamini pays R650k personal cost order to NGOs in social grant case

Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini has paid a personal cost order against her to the NGOs that brought a successful court action against her.

Former minister Bathabile Dlamini has paid the costs awarded against her in her personal capacity by the Constitutional Court. File image
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times

This was disclosed on Thursday by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, which represented the Black Sash.

The order was made by the Constitutional Court for her role in the social grants crisis almost three years ago.

Sunday Times reported previously that Dlamini was ordered to pay R55,000 to the Black Sash and about R600,000 to Freedom Under Law.

The matter relates to a case involving a tender to pay out social grants awarded to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) that had expired — but was renewed repeatedly. Dlamini was accused of failing to make sure the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) was capacitated to pay out social grants after the contract with CPS expired.

“We have been gratified to note that in the past two weeks the order has now been complied with and Mrs Dlamini has paid our costs,” CALS said in a statement.

The Constitutional Court had three years ago found her personally liable for 20% of the costs of Black Sash and Freedom Under Law‚ including the costs of two counsel. Sassa and its CEO had been ordered to pay the 80% balance.

The 2018 ruling was a first of its kind where a public official was expected to pay for legal costs from their own pockets and not state coffers.

In a unanimous judgment delivered in the court‚ Dlamini was criticised for her role in handling the Sassa fiasco. The court was forced to extend the contract that the social development department had with CPS‚ even though it had been found illegal.

FUL and The Black Sash Trust had since 2013 been embroiled in legal battles with Dlamini, wanting her to be found personally liable for the pay system debacle.

In a statement, CALS explained how difficult it had been to receive the payment from Dlamini, adding that she had ignored letters of demands. CALS said it had to even approach the sheriff’s office for assistance.

Three months ago, Dlamini told the Sunday Times that she was having difficulty in making the payments because she could not access her pension fund.

CALS CEO Nicole Fritz hailed the 2018 judgment as a victory, adding she hoped it would be a lesson to those in public office.

“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 responsibility,” Fritz said.

“At the same time,  litigation efforts are ongoing to ensure that private actors involved – specifically CPS – fully comply with the Constitutional Court orders in the social grants matters.”

TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)

Naledi Shange

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