ANC Women’s League head Bathabile Dlamini, who was the Social Development Minister in former President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet, is defying a Constitutional Court order to pay part of the legal costs two NGOs won in a landmark social grants case against her in 2018.

The reason, she says, is that her ministerial pension is being blocked.

A Sunday Times report notes attempts by the sheriff of the court to locate Dlamini at two of her properties have failed, and she has changed lawyers, making it more difficult to pin her down, although she was spotted outside the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court, where ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule made his second appearance on corruption charges on Friday.

‘How am I supposed to pay the money when my pension is withheld?’ Dlamini reportedly told the newspaper.

Even though Parliament has confirmed that Dlamini received a loss-of-office gratuity payment when she quit in 2019, she said this week she can't pay the amounts she owes to the NGOs that brought the successful court action – R55,000 to the Black Sash and about R600,000 to Freedom Under Law.

Dlamini said she was informed that the state had decided to withhold her pension after her resignation from Parliament in 2019 when she did not make it into President Cyril Ramaphosa's Cabinet.

The Sunday Times says an e-mail from a senior administrator from Alexander Forbes, distributed internally to three other senior administrators and dated August 2019, supports Dlamini's claim. The Political Office-Bearers Pension Fund said it is dealing with Dlamini's matter and declined to comment further.

Dlamini said she fails to understand what led to the decision to withhold her pension because she has not been under any investigation.

‘To me it seems like people are using state institutions to squeeze us. When someone does that, they are nearly done with you.’

However, insiders said since she lost her Cabinet post she has been employed at Luthuli House and draws a salary, notes the Sunday Times report.

On the instruction of the Black Sash and Freedom Under Law, the sheriff has visited two properties that are in Dlamini's name – but she was nowhere to be found. The NGOs have vowed not to give up.

The legal fees at issue relate to a case involving a tender to pay out social grants granted to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) that had expired – but was renewed repeatedly. Dlamini was accused of failing to make sure Sassa was capacitated to pay out social grants after the contract with CPS expired.

In addition to issuing a personal costs order against Dlamini, the court instructed the NPA to establish whether Dlamini should face a charge of perjury.

The NPA is considering whether to charge Dlamini for allegedly lying under oath to a section 39 inquiry chaired by Judge Bernard Ngoepe.

NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema confirmed that prosecutors had received a docket related to Dlamini's case but no decision had been taken on whether to prosecute or not.

Full Sunday Times report (subscription needed)