ANC wants action against ‘criminal’ DA Tshwane councillors ‘working from Cape Town and New Zealand’
The ANC is planning to lay criminal charges against two DA Tshwane councillors who the ruling party claims are working from Cape Town and New Zealand.
While the DA said there is nothing untoward with the situation, the Tshwane ANC wants action taken against councillors Johan Welmans and Ernst Botha.
The ANC said the two have continued to draw salaries for council work but have been out of service for the people of the metro.
According to the party’s Kgosi Maepa, Welmans and Botha no longer reside in Tshwane, though their mandate involves them living in the communities they serve.
“Information in our possession indicates councillor Ernst Botha (ward 44, Pretoria East) has emigrated and now resides in Oceania, New Zealand. Councillor Johan Welmans (ward 99, Cullinan) is now residing in the Western Cape and our information indicates he sold his Tshwane property in 2020. We also know councillor Welmans has resigned from the DA to join a new right-wing political party,” said Maepa.
This, he claimed, was illegal.
The Electoral Act is clear that a ward councillor must live within the boundaries of a municipality in which where he or she is elected to serveKgosi Maepa
“The Electoral Act is clear that a ward councillor must live within the boundaries of a municipality where he or she is elected to serve,” Maepa said.
The ruling party claimed the two councillors have tried to dupe the council by not disclosing their whereabouts when they joined council meetings via virtual platforms.
Maepa shared with TimesLIVE recorded audio from a council meeting held on February 1 2021 in which he questioned the whereabouts of the two councillors, pointing out that their exact whereabouts could be verified through their cellphone networks.
In the audio, Maepa could also be heard questioning allegations about the resignation of at least one of the councillors.
The DA’s chief whip Christo van der Heever replied by dismissing the rumours, saying neither of the councillors had relocated or resigned.
In communication with TimesLIVE, Maepa said one of the red flags signalling Botha had left the country was contained in an online petition he tried to launch on behalf of his ward. The petition address showed it had been created in New Zealand on the petitions.nz platform.
“Ward councillors can assist their constituents and make formal complaints or submit petitions to the municipality and follow up on such action to resolution. We have seen councillor Botha do the latter via his New Zealand e-mail, a criminal and an illegal act. A ward councillor who is absent in the geographic area he or she represents shall not be able to deliver on the expectations put on that position.
“As a consequence therefore, the absence of the two DA councillors is criminal. It is theft for them to have continued to draw salaries for work they are incapable of performing since early 2020,” Maepa said.
The ANC accuses Van der Heever of deliberately misleading the council when he refuted claims that the councillors were not in Tshwane.
The ANC is not only laying charges against the councillors, but is also pursuing Van der Heever and speaker, Katlego Mathebe, Maepa said.
“The ANC caucus will furthermore seek legal advice and go to the public protector,” he said.
But the DA maintained there is nothing untoward.
DA Gauteng chairman Fred Nel confirmed to TimesLIVE on Tuesday that Welmans remained a Tshwane councillor. He did not disclose where Welmans had been working and logging on from.
Nel said Botha had resigned and was serving out his notice from New Zealand.
He said: “Welmans is on sick leave because he has a very serious medical condition so he can’t go out during with Covid-19. He is on special sick leave until it is safe for him to get out and about again.
“He does attend council committee meetings and still services the residents of his ward, though he does it remotely because council meetings are happening remotely.”
Botha had applied for a month of leave prior to his resignation, Nel said.
“He went on a private trip to New Zealand. He then asked to extend his leave and was told his leave would be extended, but he needed to come back. He then decided to tender his resignation, effective from February 28,” Nel said.
He did not give an exact date when Botha had resigned but his leave, which he reportedly tried to extend, was meant to have ended on January 31.
He is serving his last few weeks in council overseas.
“Despite him being out of the country for the last month, he was still able to attend all his meetings and service his ward, but he was on leave for the month.”
He said it was possible Botha could have been in New Zealand since before January.
“The council was closed over December on recess so usually they don’t need to put in special leave for the period of December. Whether he went in December or in January, I am not sure,” Nel said.
Regarding the criminal charges, Nel said it was unfortunate the ANC was choosing to prioritise this over other serious matters.
“We don’t have anything to hide and we don’t believe there was any criminal intent on the part of our councillors.”