Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini could end up with a personal bill for legal costs of as much as R5-million.
The Sunday Times reported that legal experts estimated that the bills for the social grants case at the Constitutional Court could total R2-million to R5-million. The case was brought as an urgent matter by the Black Sash and Freedom Under Law against the Minister of Social Development, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), the existing grants contractor Cash Paymaster Services and others, asking the Concourt to intervene to watch over the grant payments process.
The Concourt on Friday effectively placed the social grants payment process under judicial administration and also ordered that Dlamini must give reasons by March 31 why she should not be held personally liable for the costs of the application. This is an indication of the court's view of Dlamini's conduct in the matter.
The Sunday Times quoted retired Concourt judge Justice Johann Kriegler, saying the minister's bill could be a "seven-digit figure, especially with all the parties involved. It won't be a small figure at all."
An unnamed senior counsel told the newspaper that there were five senior counsel and 14 attorneys involved in the case and costs include both court time and preparation time.
Dlamini told the Sunday Times that she wasn't entirely to blame for the fiasco and pointed particularly towards Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza, accusing him of frustrating her efforts to resolve the crisis.
She told both the Sunday Times and City Press she would fight the attempt to hold her financially liable.
Dlamini told both newspapers she had to ask ministers Jeff Radebe and David Mahlobo to intervene at the last minute in a squabble between Sassa officials over the affidavit being sent to the Concourt on Monday afternoon.