Judge Bernard Ngoepe has found that former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini impeded her own cause by failing to disclose to the Constitutional Court the extent of her involvement in the social grants crisis.

There were complaints that the Minister’s self-appointed work streams operated as a parallel structure, frustrating the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa)’s effort to take over the payment of grants from Cash Paymaster Services.

Judge Ngoepe headed up an inquiry to help the Constitutional Court determine whether the minister should pay the hefty legal bill from her own pocket.

In 2015, Sassa promised to take over grant payments by April 2017, after the Constitutional Court invalidated its contract with Cash Paymaster Services.

At the eleventh hour the Black Sash Trust raised alarm bells over Sassa’s inability to take over the payment of grants.

After narrowly averting the crisis, the Constitutional Court asked the minister to explain why she should not be called to answer for the crisis and pay the costs from her own pocket.

She passed the buck to her subordinates, sparking an inquiry.

Judge Ngoepe found that the minister was a less than satisfactory witness, who was evasive and even refused to answer pertinent questions.

He found that fear motivated the minister’s material non-disclosure to the Constitutional Court.

The court has given the parties one week to respond to Ngoepe’s report.

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