Dlamini perjury case: 'I can't die for grants' - ex-Sassa CEO explains to court why he left agency

26th November 2021 By: News24Wire

 Dlamini perjury case: 'I can't die for grants' - ex-Sassa CEO explains to court why he left agency

Former Minister Bathabile Dlamini

While the State requested that the perjury case against former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini be postponed to next year to make arrangements for its first witness, it somehow managed to get him to testify on Friday.

This was after the magistrate refused to grant the postponement following a request by the State, citing that it still had to make travel and accommodation arrangements for the witness.

Former South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) CEO Thokozani Magwaza is currently testifying in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court. He is the only witness for the State.

During his testimony on Friday, Magwaza told the court he was appointed as acting Director-General in March 2015 and appointed CEO in 2016. However, he left after receiving death threats.

"It was a mutual agreement between me and the minister (Dlamini) that I leave Sassa because things were no longer tenable for me," he said.

"I approached her (Dlamini) and told her that I can't die for grants," Magwaza said.  

Magwaza's appearance came after Magistrate Betty Khumalo's refusal to grant the State's request for a postponement until "sometime next year".

On Thursday, State advocate Jacob Serepo told the court that after consulting with a witness on Wednesday, the State had decided not to call her to testify.

Serepo said the State would have to make travel and accommodation arrangements for Magwaza to be in court, adding that the process of arranging travel and accommodation could take three to four weeks.

However, Dlamini's lawyer, advocate Tshepiso Mphahlane, was opposed to the delay. He said the State should have consulted with witnesses when the trial date was announced.

Magistrate Khumalo was visibly not impressed with the delays, saying she did not see "any efforts on the side of the State to secure witnesses".

"I am not convinced that the State has put in efforts," she said, adding that there was also no effort in ensuring that Magwaza was in court.

Dlamini pleaded not guilty to perjury on Wednesday in a case related to her testimony during an inquiry that the Constitutional Court had instituted into her role in the 2017 social grants crisis.

In her plea explanation, Dlamini denied that she had intentionally lied and given false evidence.