Minutes into a hearing on the social grants saga‚ social development minister Bathabile Dlamini was involved in a standoff with the legal counsel of her former director general.
Since the start of the inquiry Dlamini has been chastised by retired judge Bernard Ngoepe for not answering questions put to her.
Thursday’s session was no different as Dlamini evaded a question on why she had failed to disclose “vital” information to former director general Zane Dangor‚ relating to the work streams she had set up to deal with the payment of social grants. She instead asked Dangor’s counsel‚ Vincent Maleka SC‚ to repeat his question.
Maleka refused to repeat the question‚ telling Dlamini to listen attentively.
Dlamini charged at Maleka‚ accusing him of “making nuances”.
“There are nuances you are making that I don’t like‚” she said.
Dlamini asked Maleka to repeat the question again‚ telling him that she has a right to ask him to do so.
Ngoepe told Dlamini to point out any questions she deemed unfair.
The inquiry was set up to probe Dlamini’s role in the social grants debacle. The process is a directive of the Constitutional Court‚ which last year ordered that an inquiry be established before it could rule on allegations that she was to blame for the grants fiasco.
The court ordered that all parties involved in the matter appoint a judge to investigate whether Dlamini should be held liable for the saga.
The Black Sash Trust had approached the court in March last year after the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) acknowledged it would not be able to pay millions of grants from April 1‚ despite promising the court in November 2015 it would do so.