An inquiry into whether social development minister Bathabile Dlamini misled the Constitutional Court released her from personal attendance on Thursday afternoon, after four solid — and often gruelling — days as a witness.
Dlamini ended her stint with what seemed at times frustrated efforts by her advocate, Ishmael Semenya, to undo some of the damage she wrought under cross examination.
During questioning by representatives of the Black Sash Trust, Freedom Under Law, and two of her former officials, Dlamini contradicted herself, refused to admit simple facts, and failed to answer many crucial questions.
The end of Semenya’s redirect means that former SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) CEO Thokozani Magwaza will be led in evidence on Friday, to be followed by Dlamini’s former special advisor and director-general Zane Dangor.
Although the inquiry had been scheduled to end on Friday, legal representatives agreed this was no longer possible, after Dlamini meandered her way through simple questions despite admonishments from the presiding judge. The inquiry is now expected to continue next Friday, with a likely additional day to be fixed then for arguments by the legal teams.
Should Dlamini be found to have acted in bad faith, she could be held personally liable for the cost of the inquiry as well as costs around the 2017 Constitutional Court matter.
Magwaza and Dangor have both dismissed Dlamini’s accusations that they were largely responsible for the 2017 crisis in the payment of social grants, and said that she had been dishonest in her dealings with the Constitutional Court.
Both will face cross examination by Semenya.
In her final day of testimony Dlamini continued to evade simple questions and refused to answer others. Asked to comment on Dangor’s accusation that she did not solicit his advice or put information before him to enable him to give advice, Dlamini said imperiously: “We can proceed.”
Shortly after that, Dangor’s representative explained the phrase “pulling the wool over someone’s eyes” to the inquiry.