JOHANNESBURG, South African Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini will face off with two former executives in an inquiry to determine where the buck stops for last year’s social grants crisis.

After the Social Security Agency (Sassa) was unable to meet an April 1, 2017, deadline to take over the payment of grants from a company it had contracted to perform the task, the Constitutional Court was forced to extend the contract, which had previously been declared by the courts as unlawful.

The court called oral evidence after court papers revealed nothing more than finger pointing between the Minister and the Social Security Agency.

Now, lawyers for former Sassa chief executive officer Thokozani Magwaza and the former director-general of the Social Development Department, Zane Dangor, said they would be more than happy to cross-examine the minister on her various incriminating statements.

The Minister’s lawyer, Ismael Semenya, argued that the minister had not been properly briefed or prepared.

Constitutional Court judge Justice Bernard Ngoepe said Tuesday: I heard what Mr Semenya has said about witnesses not being allowed to put questions to another witness. In my view, this is an unusual situation.

“In fact, the Minister having testified, in all fairness to Mr Magwaza and Mr Dangor, they should have the right to cross-examine the Minister, particularly because they are going to come to testify and the Minister is going to cross-examine them.”

Before Dlamini can leave the witness stand, she faces a further grilling. This could centre on her evidence that she was not aware that Sassa officials were unhappy with her work streams. However, she accepted that Magwaza had written to her to voice his concern that the work streams were a parallel process which worked to undermine Sassa.

Lawyers might also test the minister’s assertion that she only came to know about the impending crisis six months after Sassa officials became aware.