Order to block Bathabile Dlamini’s pension payout came from Sassa

Justice and constitutional development department says former minister is aware of the instruction

Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini told Sunday Times she suspected the move to withhold her pension had been politically motivated. File photo.
Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini told Sunday Times she suspected the move to withhold her pension had been politically motivated. File photo.
Image: Eugene Coetzee/The Herald

Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini’s pension payout was blocked by the state after an instruction from the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), the department of justice and constitutional development revealed on Wednesday.

The revelation comes days after Sunday Times reported that Dlamini, who resigned from parliament in 2019, was unable to pay part of legal costs to two NGOs which won a landmark social grants case against her in 2018 due to her ministerial pension being blocked.

Dlamini told the publication she was unaware why this had been the case. However, the department has since refuted the claim.

“The information before the solicitor-general reveals the instruction to withhold the payment of the former minister’s pension was received from Sassa. Reasons for the withdrawal of the pension are well-known by the former minister and Sassa. Thus far, no party has contested this nor has there been any intention to do so.  

“The state attorney acts upon the instruction of its client, which are the departments and state entities it represents. This matter in particular is being litigated by the parties, which include the former minister,” said department spokesperson Stephen Mahlangu.

Dlamini told Sunday Times she suspected the move to withhold her pension had been politically motivated.  

Mahlangu said the department’s investigation has revealed otherwise.

“We want to categorically state that such reports are unfortunate, without substance and devoid of any truth.”  

The department said it could not reveal the exact reasons due to a confidentiality clause. It claimed Dlamini was aware of the reason(s).

“It should be further noted the solicitor-general is not at liberty to reveal the exact nature of the instructions to the state attorney as that would be the discretion of Sassa as the client department.

Politics do not play any role whatsoever in the work of the state attorney’s office and insinuations suggesting otherwise are malicious and should be rejected.
Stephen Mahlangu

“However, we can confirm all the parties in the matter are in possession of the necessary documents which flow from this instruction and are fully aware of the current legal position. This includes the former minister of social development.

“Politics do not play any role whatsoever in the work of the state attorney’s office and insinuations suggesting otherwise are malicious and should be rejected,” Mahlangu said.

Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.  

In 2018 the Constitutional Court ordered that the former minister, Sassa and its CEO pay 80% of the legal costs in their official capacity. It ruled Dlamini was liable for 20% of the bill in her personal capacity because the grants crisis was largely caused by her negligence and recklessness.

In addition to issuing a personal costs order against Dlamini, the court instructed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to establish whether Dlamini should face a charge of perjury.

The NPA is considering whether to charge Dlamini for allegedly lying under oath to a section 39 inquiry chaired by judge Bernard Ngoepe.

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