/ 20 November 2007

De Lille consults lawyers over Chaaban

The City of Cape Town’s spy saga took another turn on Tuesday with Independent Democrats (ID) leader Patricia de Lille deciding on legal action against controversial expelled councillor Badih Chaaban.

De Lille met police on Tuesday afternoon in connection with the alleged illegal surveillance of politicians in the city.

Police had played a number of tape recordings relating to what Chaaban had ”said about me”, she told the South African Press Association afterwards.

”I am very upset after listening to those tapes,” De Lille said.

The statements made were vulgar, racist, sexist and very hurtful.

De Lille said she had consulted her lawyers to formulate charges against Chaaban and would certainly be taking legal action.

She had it on good authority that the tapes would stand up as evidence in court.

De Lille said the police had also given her a list of questions to answer and she had further agreed to provide a statement on Monday.

Police have already interviewed several other politicians in connection with the spy saga, including Cape Town mayor and Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille, and another senior ID member, Simon Grindrod.

The police investigation comprises four legs — any possible criminal activity involving Chaaban, the DA, Cape Town city, and George Fivaz and Associates together with Phillip Du Toit, the private investigator who made the secret recordings and is currently in custody.

The allegation is that the DA asked for a probe into Chabaan, but after a while it was shifted from the DA to the city and subsequently paid for by ratepayers.

Chaaban has been accused of bribing and threatening councillors to cross the floor.

‘A lot of attention and detail’

Meanwhile, councillors other than Chaaban may also have been under illegal surveillance in Cape Town’s spy scandal and police have ”a lot of information and detail” to back this up, the Cape Times reported Grindrod as saying.

Grindrod was speaking on Sunday outside the Bellville South police station after he was questioned for an hour about his knowledge of the matter. His advocate, Johan de Waal, was present during the questioning.

”The police obviously wanted to verify certain facts about the illegal surveillance of councillors,” Grindrod said.

”I get the impression more than one councillor was under surveillance and it appears there is a lot of evidence.

”Police have received affidavits from a number of Cape Town councillors.”

The matter involves the council’s employment of private investigators to probe Chaaban’s activities during the floor-crossing period.

Zille on November 9 named a replacement advocate to conduct an official probe into the spy affair. The first person she chose for the job, advocate Geoff Budlender, withdrew over a possible conflict of interest.

Zille has now asked advocate Josie Jordaan of the Cape Bar to lead the inquiry. – Sapa