Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini pleaded not guilty to perjury charges on November 24 2021 Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/SUNDAY TIMES
Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini pleaded not guilty to perjury charges on November 24 2021 Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/SUNDAY TIMES

Day one of former Bathabile Dlamini's perjury trial hit a snag on Wednesday when the state prosecutor announced its failure to consult two witnesses in time.

The former social development minister appeared in the Johannesburg magistrate’s court. The matter was postponed to Thursday so that the state could consult two witnesses subpoenaed to testify.

Dlamini pleaded not guilty to lying under oath at a 2017 inquiry into the 2016 social grants scandal. The case relates to her testimony during an inquiry the Constitutional Court instituted over her role in the social grants crisis. The debacle placed at risk stipends from the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) on which millions of indigent citizens rely.

The 2017 inquiry was chaired by retired judge Bernard Ngoepe, who found that Dlamini’s reply to questions were “less than satisfactory” and that she was likely attempting to shield herself from blame. 

In September 2018, the Constitutional Court ordered Dlamini to personally pay 20% of the legal fees of the Black Sash and Freedom Under Law, which had taken her to court over her handling of social grants. She paid about R650,000 earlier this year.

On Wednesday, the state handed in a transcript of Dlamini’s testimony at the inquiry, though her legal counsel, Tshepiso Mphahlane, said the National Prosecuting Authority hadn’t provided a list of witnesses, as requested.

State prosecutor Jacob Serepo said consultations with two of three witnesses are still required.

Magistrate Betty Khumalo accepted the inquiry transcripts and postponed the trial until Thursday.

batese@businesslive.co.za

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