Patricia de Lille lodged an application in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town to set aside the resolution of the City of Cape Town council to adopt the Bowmans report that led to criminal charges being laid against her.
Cape Town speaker Dirk Smit laid criminal charges against De Lille and mayoral committee member Brett Herron on Tuesday following the Cape Town city council’s adoption of two reports by Bowmans into maladministration at the metro during an eventful council meeting on Thursday.
De Lille wants the report, titled “Investigation into allegations of Misconduct at the City of Cape Town – Phase 2”, and the consequential actions following therefrom, insofar as they relate to her, reviewed and set aside.
The City of Cape Town and the DA are the respondents, and De Lille wants the DA to pay the costs of the application, unless the City opposes it, in which case she wants the City and the DA to jointly pay her costs.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday on the steps of the Western Cape High Court, where she also announced her resignation as mayor and DA member, De Lille said: “Today I have once again been forced to turn to the courts in my quest to fight for my rights, justice and to clear my name.”
She said the two reports were contradictory – “one of which cleared me and the other recommended that I be criminally charged”.
‘Only a court can find me guilty’
“Firstly, I always cooperated with any investigation since the onset of this witch-hunt,” she said.
She said the Bowmans reports were just that: Reports.
“They are not judgments.
“The evidence Bowmans relies on in compiling their politically manipulated report must be tested in court and only a court can find me guilty.
“I have always said that I respect the independence of our judiciary and our courts have confirmed their independence time and time again,” she said.
“What I am challenging right now is how the same company, Bowmans, conducting the same investigation, on the same charge can come to two different conclusions.”
Knock out pending….. pic.twitter.com/P8kY81zWOU
— Patricia de Lille (@PatriciaDeLille) October 31, 2018
However, the two reports investigated different matters.
One report investigated whether De Lille prevented the former city manager, Achmat Ebrahim, from reporting allegations of misconduct to the council and whether De Lille failed to present a dossier with allegations to the council. This report is titled “Investigation into allegations involving the executive mayor alderman Patricia de Lille”. It is 34 pages long.
The other report’s goal was to investigate allegations of misconduct made against senior councillors and administrators. It investigated 10 “work streams”, some of which contain more than one allegation. This report is titled “Investigation into allegations of misconduct at the City of Cape Town – Phase 2”. This report is 299 pages, but totals 1 998 pages when the addenda containing emails and documents pertaining to the allegations are included.
This report’s several recommendations included that De Lille, mayoral committee member Brett Herron and suspended transport commissioner Melissa Whitehead be charged. Whitehead is a central figure in much of the alleged misconduct.
‘Appropriate sanction’ recommended
The 34-page report found that De Lille sought to influence or persuade the Ebrahim from presenting an allegation of misconduct, but nothing in law prevented him from doing so.
The report then goes on to state that De Lille did not preclude him from bringing the matter to council, and that there is no failure on De Lille’s part to bring the matter to council, as it was Ebrahim’s duty.
The 299-page report found Ebrahim and De Lille’s failure to report the matter to the board was a failure of their duties in respect of the Municipal Systems Act’s (MSA) disciplinary regulations.
The report recommended that council consider the appropriate sanction against De Lille and states that the MSA records: “A councillor who attempts to influence the municipal manager or any other staff member or an agent of a municipality not to enforce an obligation in terms of this act, any other applicable legislation or any by-law or decision of the council of the municipality, is guilty of an offence and on conviction liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.”
Deputy chairperson of the DA’s federal council Natasha Mazzone said the party noted De Lille’s announcement that she had approached the Western Cape High Court to have the report set aside.
“It is, however, crucial to remember that this is an independent council report, which found her guilty of systematically breaking down good governance in the City of Cape Town. She did so by actively shielding and defending officials allegedly guilty of irregularities in relation to the BYD bus tender – where processes were fraudulently manipulated to illegally favour one bus provider – and the Volvo chassis matter – where the mayor chose to ignore and shield consequential action for irregular payment of R50m,” Mazzone said.
Report ‘politically manipulated’
“Ms De Lille likes to try and confuse the public, saying repeatedly there is an irreconcilable contradiction between the two reports. This is a diversion – both reports find a pattern of interference and manipulation of governance processes by Ms De Lille.”
Mazzone pointed out that any dispute De Lille may have about the council processes is “purely a matter between the City and the outgoing mayor”.
De Lille claimed on Wednesday that the Bowmans report was “politically manipulated” and that politicians “colluded” with Bowmans.
Mazzone said it needs to be stated unambiguously that there was “absolutely no political interference of any kind” in what was always an independent, council-led process.
“Any attempt to claim otherwise is also untrue,” she said.