Embattled former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini and her former spokesperson owe the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) over R3 million, which was allegedly paid to a private security company to protect their children.
Sassa has launched a court bid to force them to repay the money, which is at the heart of why Dlamini’s pension has been frozen.
Sunday World revealed that Sassa has embarked on legal action to recoup the money from the ANC Women’s League president, who has claimed she does not know why her pension has been frozen, saying “people are using state institutions to squeeze us”.
In papers filed at the Pretoria High Court, Sassa CFO Tsakeriwa Chauke said the agency’s decision to pay for private security of Dlamini’s children and her former spokesperson Lumka Oliphant and her children was unlawful and constituted fruitless expenditure.
In February 2014, Sassa awarded security company Vuco Security Solutions a contract for Oliphant, her children and Dlamini’s children following alleged threats to their lives.
Vuco was paid just over R2 million for Dlamini and close to R1,5 million for Oliphant.
Chauke wants the court to set aside the decision and force Dlamini and Oliphant, along with former Sassa CEO Virginia Petersen – who oversaw the process on instruction from Dlamini – to repay the money.
He said Dlamini and Oliphant had “no right” to receive the services at the expense of Sassa, adding the police were responsible for security matters. “The first respondent (Petersen) knew that her conduct was unlawful and illegal but persisted with … impunity and disregard for the rule of law.
“I accordingly submit that the first respondent should be held accountable,” Chauke said, in an affidavit signed in November last year.
But Petersen hit back in her answering affidavit deposed last month, saying that the security services were procured after an assessment done by the police.
The Department of Social Development’s anti- fraud campaign had exposed her, Dlamini and Oliphant to death threats. She attached a 2014 January letter in which then acting Gauteng divisional commissioner for crime intelligence Dr BM Nkosi recommended that Oliphant be provided with security.
Dlamini last week told Sunday Times she could not pay the Constitutional Court order costs to two non-governmental organisations (which relate to the case of a social grant she lost) because her pension was blocked.
“The court order does not say a thing about my pension. To me it seems like people are using state institutions to squeeze us,” Dlamini said.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department said Dlamini’s statements were “unfortunate, without substance and devoid of any truth” and that she knew why her pension was frozen.
It has now emerged that Sassa wants Dlamini and Oliphant to pay from their pensions and has instructed Alexandra Forbes to withhold the money due to them. Dlamini’s lawyer, Tim Sukazi, said she will settle her answering affidavit in due course.
The By Sandile Motha The much-anticipated meeting between former president Jacob Zuma and the ANC’s top six will take place at Luthuli House headquarters amid security concerns around his homestead in Nkandla. KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli has confirmed the meeting, saying the former statesman had agreed to meet the party’s top brass.
“The meeting is scheduled to take place at Luthuli House in two weeks’ time. You’ll recall that the meeting was expected to sit last week Monday, but was postponed because the former president had to attend a court case in Pietermaritzburg,” he said.
Ntuli used the opportunity to dispel reports that the former president had refused to meet with the party’s top leadership.
“The former president had never expressed any displeasure with meeting and engaging with the leadership. In fact, our view as the PEC [provincial executive committee] is that Zuma must be heard and given space to raise the issues he has about the Zondo Commission.
“The Zuma matter should be handled with utmost care, with the aim of finding each other and prevent factions at all costs within the party.”
Sunday World reported last week on how Police Minister Bheki Cele had travelled to Nkandla to talk to Zuma following a security assessment.
According to the assessment, there were major concerns that Zuma’s sympathisers, who are camping outside his Nkandla homestead, posed a security threat as taxi warlords representing various taxi associations in KwaZulu-Natal had joined in to defend Zuma.
There were also fears that the taxi operators and their drivers were apparently carrying unlicenced firearms.
ANCWL has defended Dlamini on the pension matter, saying no woman should go through such an experience.
Oliphant referred questions to her lawyer Jabu Mabuza, who said his client had received threats for her work, including the repatriation of children whose mothers were imprisoned in Brazil for drug trafficking.
“The threats escalated to her two minor children who were 11 and 8 years at the time. She then reported the matter to her line manager who in turn addressed a letter to the former national commissioner, Ms Riah Phiyega.
An independent threat analysis was conducted and the South African Police Services confirmed that my client’s life and her children’s life was in danger,” he said, adding she had no played no part in the procurement process.