The Constitutional Court will also send documents to the National Public Prosecution Service to determine whether Dlamini has lied under oath and must be prosecuted for perjury, after having provided false information to the court, said Judge Johan Froneman in a verdict in Johannesburg on Thursday submitted.
Dlamini took responsibility last year for the failure of the welfare department to find a new service provider for dealing with scholarships, after the Constitutional Court decided in 2014 that a contract with Net 1 UEPS Technologies Inc. to handle the payouts was invalid. Social security benefits are the largest government initiative to help combat poverty in South Africa, amid high unemployment, slowing economic growth and high inequality.
"Her behavior was reckless and grossly negligent, everything is enough reason for a personal cost order," said Froneman, who made Dlamini personally liable for 20 percent of the costs of the legal proceedings. The cost request has been submitted by South African advocates Black Sash and Freedom Under Law.
Dlamini was dismissed as head of the social development department in a cabinet reorganization in February, after Cyril Ramaphosa replaced Jacob Zuma as president. She is currently the minister of women's affairs.
The Center for Applied Legal Studies, which brought the case before the Constitutional Court on behalf of the Black Sash, welcomed the verdict.
"The verdict is an important precedent for holding public officials accountable for their reckless and negligent actions in performing their duties," said Wandisa Phama, Acting Deputy Director at CALS, in a statement by e-mail. "This is a first step to ensure that a similar crisis never occurs again."
Vuyani Ngalwana, Dlamini's personal lawyer, did not answer his cell phone or did not respond to a text message when Bloomberg searched for comments.