Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is preparing a court action to take the Bowman Gilfillan report, which implicated her in possible criminal wrongdoing, on judicial review.
The embattled mayor — whose term in office may end on Wednesday — made the announcement at the Cape Town Press Club on Monday, during what was anticipated to be her final formal public speech as mayor.
“Where my emphasis is right now, is that I have to clear my name again like I’ve cleared it in all these other instances. So, I’m consulting my lawyers and, unfortunately, I’m going back to court and my mandate to my lawyers is, I want to go to court before Wednesday to try and review and to set aside this report,” De Lille said.
A report from Bowman Gilfillan’s Johannesburg office recommended that the Cape Town city council “sanction” De Lille and indicated she may have violated the Municipal Systems Act when she allegedly prevented Achmat Ebrahim, the former city manager, from reporting irregular payments for Volvo bus chassis to council.
The payments amounted to around R43-million, and are alleged to have been facilitated by suspended transport commissioner Melissa Whitehead.
But there is a second Bowman Gilfillan report which investigated allegations of misconduct against De Lille and cleared her of wrongdoing. The second report, which was compiled by the law firm’s Cape Town office, placed the onus on Ebrahim for not reporting the alleged wrongdoing.
De Lille said that when she asked Bowman Gilfillan how it released two reports which led similar investigations with different recommendations, the law firm referred her to the city manager, Lungelo Mbandazayo. She says that Mbandazayo then told her that only Bowman Gilfillan could explain its reports.
While De Lille did not elaborate on what exactly her case would be against the report, she said that there were “procedural errors” and that the Democratic Alliance had access to the report before it was meant to be released to Councillors in the city council.
“There were a number of procedural errors with this report that purports to find me guilty. Part of the procedural errors was that this is a confidential report of council and was only supposed to come before council on Thursday. But on Tuesday already this confidential report was in the possession of the party and the party issued a statement then already,” she said.
The mayor has been embroiled in many legal battles with the DA in an effort to fight what she has called a “smear campaign” to force her out of office. She has challenged the Steenhuisen report — an internal party investigation into her alleged misconduct — and she has won her court bid to have her DA membership reinstated after the party attempted to terminate it earlier this year.
Her agreement with the DA to resign at the end of October instead of facing internal disciplinary processes has caused some disappointment for Councillors, however. The disciplinary process was meant to publicly air the party’s charges against De Lille and her defense against them.
But the process was suspended once De Lille agreed to resign.
Over the past week, speculation has mounted that the mayor will not step down. De Lille herself has refused to answer the question, leaving the mystery to remain until Wednesday.
“I’m taking one day at a time because a day in politics is a long time. If any one of you asks me: ‘are you going to resign on the 31st [October]?’, I’m going to tell you to wait for the 31st,” she said.