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Dlamini a pensioner with dependents, says lawyer asking for lenient sentence

Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini was found guilty of perjury and is on a warning until she returns to Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court to be sentenced next month.

Former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini at Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. Photo: Masechaba Sefularo/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG — Bathabile Dlamini’s attorney has pleaded for leniency in the former social development minister’s sentencing, saying she was a pensioner who had dependents financially.

Magistrate Betty Khumalo found that Dlamini knowingly provided false testimony during a 2017 investigation into the Sassa grants debacle and the state proved it beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Dlamini was found guilty of perjury and is on a warning until she returns to Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court to be sentenced next month.

In her mitigating argument, lawyer Tshepiso Mphahlane said her client had earned R40,000 from her previous role as an MP and R70,000 as president of the African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League, adding that his five-year term in that position was about to end.

Mphahlane asked the court not to send Dlamini to jail, saying she was a single mother who paid her daughters’ school fees and supported her elderly parents with the income she received.

Dlamini was backed in court by ANC bigwigs linked to the so-called RET Forces, including NEC member Tony Yengeni, who supported Mphahlane’s argument.

“We note with satisfaction that Comrade Batha’s legal representative is suggesting to the court that it is not a jail term but a fine,” Yengeni said.

But the state has called for a harsh sentence, saying it should send a message to officials to respect the rule of law and be exemplary.