Perjury: Former Minister Dlamini to Pay R200,000 Fine, or Get Imprisoned  

Perjury Former Minister Dlamini to Pay R200,000 Fine, or Get imprisoned   (News Central TV)

South Africa’s former Minister of Social Development and ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) president Bathabile Dlamini has on Friday been sentenced to a fine of R200,000 for perjury.

She faces four years’ imprisonment, of which two are suspended for five years if she fails to pay the fine.

In sentencing Dlamini, magistrate Betty Khumalo said the accused has shown no remorse for her actions. She had taken an oath when she became a minister which she broke and caused the events that led to the the 2017 social grants crisis.

Dlamini was found to have lied under oath during her testimony in an inquiry into her role in the debacle.

Social Development minister Bathabile Dlamini gestures during President Cyril Ramaphosa’’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2019 debate reply at the National Assembly on February 14, 2019 in Cape Town, (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Esa Alexander)

Dlamini was convicted of perjury last month, with Khumalo saying she was satisfied Dlamini had in her written statement and oral testimony given false evidence under oath at an inquiry instituted by the Constitutional Court.

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One of the issues investigated by the inquiry, headed by retired Gauteng judge president Bernard Ngoepe, was whether Dlamini had appointed work streams of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) to ensure the agency could take over the payment of social grants from Cash Paymaster Services. The ConCourt said the inquiry found Dlamini appointed individuals to lead the parallel work streams and those individuals reported to her. The work streams were supposed to report to the Sassa executive committee, not to the minister.

Dlamini had denied lying under oath when she said the workstreams did not report to her. However, Khumalo said all evidence pointed to workstreams reporting to her.

Ahead of her sentencing, Dlamini’s lawyer had pleaded with the court to be lenient on Dlamini, who was said to earn R110,000 a month which she used to take care of her immediate and extended family. She received a R40,000 monthly pension payment from parliament as a former MP and R70,000 from the ANCWL.

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Tshepiso Mphahlane, for Dlamini, said the 59-year-old single mother of two may soon see an end to the R70,000 pay cheque because this was not a permanent position. Her term as ANCWL president is expected to end in June 2022 unless elected again, Mpahlane said.

However, prosecutor Matthew Rampyapedi had pushed for direct imprisonment.

“When one looks at the position of the accused, a former minister at national level, if this kind of offence can be perpetuated at that level, what then should become of people down there? At the pinnacle of this offence is accountability. We expect a certain standard of honesty from our public servants,” he said.

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“If you begin to trivialise this offence, and say it’s‘ just perjury’, we will be making a mockery of our justice system. It is therefore imperative the public see the justice system in action, especially in cases such as this,” he said.

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