'Dismayed' De Lille keeps Cape Town guessing

24 October 2018 - 15:47 By Aron Hyman
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille at an event in Athlone on October 24 2018.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille at an event in Athlone on October 24 2018.
Image: City of Cape Town

Patricia de Lille is keeping Capetonians waiting to find out if she will withdraw her resignation.

Instead‚ she has demanded an immediate explanation from law firm Bowman Gilfillan‚ which drew up a report recommending criminal charges against her‚ for how it made different findings about her in two investigations.

“Once I receive their response [and] discuss it with my lawyers‚ and pending the decision of council [on Thursday] regarding which of the two reports they will adopt‚ I will then be in the position to announce what my next steps will be‚” De Lille said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Extreme caution should therefore be exercised in slavishly relying on the findings‚ conclusions and recommendations contained in the reports‚ particularly considering that the reports appear to be in conflict with each other.”

Reports on Wednesday said De Lille was considering withdrawing her resignation‚ negotiated in August with Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane‚ and staying on as mayor until the issues raised in the Bowman Gilfillan reports were resolved.

Former Western Cape community safety MEC Dan Plato‚ who was De Lille’s immediate predecessor as mayor‚ has been chosen to take over from her from November 1 and has already been replaced in Premier Helen Zille’s cabinet.

A 2‚000-page report by Bowmans‚ completed after a 10-month investigation‚ says De Lille and former city manager Achmat Ebrahim broke the law when they failed to tell the council about irregular payments in 2015.

It says De Lille did so by attempting to influence Ebrahim not to fulfil his legal obligation‚ while Ebrahim did so by acceding to her wishes.

Other officials against whom the report suggests criminal charges include the mayoral committee member for transport and urban development‚ Brett Herron‚ and suspended Transport and Urban Development Authority commissioner Melissa Whitehead.

De Lille said the “malicious” leaking of the second Bowmans report to TimesLIVE by “faceless‚ nameless and useless people‚ to injure my good name”‚ had left her disappointed and dismayed.

“I have repeatedly taken issue with the credibility of Bowmans‚ ever since the inception of this investigation‚” she said‚ repeating her claims that the first report came to inaccurate or baseless conclusions.

“I wrote to them on 3 January 2018 requesting them to retract a number ‘recommendations’ made by themselves on issues which they had not even questioned me on. My request for them to delete misinformation in that report was met with their rejection‚” she said on Wednesday.

“I was defamed. I was embarrassed by the false accusations‚ but I still welcomed the [second] investigation‚ and actively participated when my turn came.”

De Lille said she was shocked when mayoral committee member JP Smith went on the radio in June to say Bowmans had uncovered evidence that she misled the council.

“I wrote to Bowmans on the same day to say that my understanding was that the investigation was still ongoing‚ and I was therefore perturbed about what Alderman JP Smith was basing his excitement on‚ because he clearly had access to information I was not privy to.

“At that stage the report could not even have included my version of the alleged events because I had not yet provided my written responses. Once again‚ Bowmans vehemently denied that they had shared any information‚ despite evidence to the contrary.

“So I am not surprised that there has once again been a very strategic leak of information whilst I was away on official business for three days.

“This is consistent with the smear campaign that I have been the subject of since the inception of this investigation last year.

“It is very convenient for all my adversaries to accept whatever the ‘recommendations’ are‚ because it suits their agenda to malign me. It is in this context that I wish to reserve my rights in terms of the ‘findings’‚ ‘conclusions’ and ‘recommendations’ in both reports.

“I will subject myself to all the necessary processes to have my name cleared.”

De Lille said Bowmans’ first report cleared her of wrongdoing‚ saying the onus was on then-city manager Achmat Ebrahim to tell the council about alleged misconduct by Whitehead. The second report found her guilty because she allegedly tried to influence Ebrahim.

“I cannot understand how the same company conducting the same investigation‚ on the same charge‚ can come to two different conclusions. I can confirm that my lawyers have now written to Bowmans to seek clarity on this and requested a response by end of business today‚” said De Lille.