The Constitutional Court has ruled that former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini is personally liable for 20% of costs of last year’s SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) debacle.
The court also found that the National Prosecuting Authority should determine whether Dlamini should be prosecuted for perjury.
An inquiry was instituted last year to investigate whether Dlamini should be held personally liable for the costs. Judge Bernard Ngoepe, who chaired the inquiry, criticised the minister in a report he had compiled.
The inquiry probed whether Dlamini had sought the appointment of individuals to lead the various work streams, which would report directly to her.
The inquiry also looked into why the minister did not disclose this information to the court that dealt with the matter.
Ngoepe’s report stated that Dlamini gave instructions for the appointment of work streams and also identified specific individuals to lead these streams.
Although Ngoepe did not make recommendations, he said Dlamini’s explanation on why she did not disclose the appointment of the individuals to work streams was “unconvincing”.
Ngoepe found that the reason why Dlamini failed to report on the work stream was because she feared being held responsible in her personal capacity for the costs in the Sassa debacle.
The Sassa case, which was brought by non-governmental organisations Black Sash and Freedom Under Law, has been ongoing for several years.
In 2014, the court ruled that the contract Sassa had signed with social grants distributor Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), two years prior, was illegal and invalid.
Sassa later returned to court because it was concerned that it would not be able to distribute cash payments to grant recipients because its new distributor, the SA Post Office, was not able to do so.
Around 2.8 million beneficiaries – roughly 26% of the scheme – receive their grants in cash.
Earlier this year, the court gave CPS another six months to pay beneficiaries who received their grants in cash.