AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Bathabile Dlamini partially pays R200,000 fine to avoid prison for perjury
On Friday former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini was sentenced to four years in prison or a R200,000 fine for perjury.
“Comrade Bathabile, thank God tonight you will be sleeping at home with your family. We know there are those who wanted to see you tonight in the prison cells and they have not succeeded.”
These were words of dismissed ANC staff member Carl Niehaus in support of former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini after she was sentenced for perjury in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on 1 April 2022.
To avoid prison, Dlamini immediately settled 20% of the fine, as prescribed by the judge.
Dlamini, who is currently serving as ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) president, lied under oath while she was minister of social development. This was in relation to her testimony during an inquiry into her role in the 2017 South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants crisis which created uncertainty for millions of beneficiaries.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Betty Khumalo said if Dlamini wished to go home, she would have to make an immediate upfront payment of 20% and settle the balance by 29 April 2022. Khumalo added that she came to the decision on Dlamini’s sentencing after considering that it was the second time the former minister had been found guilty of an offence associated with dishonesty.
In 2003, Dlamini was one of the MPs convicted of fraud in the Travelgate scandal for claiming R254,000 in undue benefits. She was one of the worst offenders in the scandal, in which a number of ANC MPs abused Parliament’s travel system to the tune of R18-million. Dlamini was then sentenced to a fine of R120,000 or five years’ imprisonment and a further five years’ imprisonment suspended conditionally for five years. She opted to pay the fine and was promoted to then-president Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet in 2009.
A number of ANC Women’s League members as well as corruption accused former Free State Premier Ace Magashule and suspended North West secretary of the ANC Supra Mahumapelo joined Niehaus in a show of support for Dlamini.
After court proceedings had concluded, Magashule told supporters and the media that the case was about dethroning Dlamini from the women’s league: “We are happy today but not too happy because we can see people want to finish the ANC so that they run South Africa with the whites. If you can’t see that they are just trying to do away with the ANC so that the DA must run the country, you are still sleeping; wake up. The case against Bathabile is to ensure that she is dethroned from her position as the ANC women’s league president. Three weeks ago ‘people’ were urging Bathabile to step down and the women’s league national committee has defended her.”
Dlamini thanked her supporters, saying: “It hasn’t been an easy journey. I had many praying for me day and night. The sentencing has been well received and it has made me reflect and make a commitment that from here I am going to be my best and be the decisive woman who can not be told on the side what to do. What has happened has made me believe we need more women in decision-making authority.”
Dlamini was removed from her position as minister of social development and moved to the portfolio for women when Cyril Ramaphosa became president, but she was dropped from the Cabinet in a reshuffle the following year. DM
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