/ 3 October 2017

Mistrust, backstabbing in DA meltdown as De Lille takes on Smith

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille.
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille.

The gloves have come off between Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services JP Smith, who believes she went behind his back in shutting down an anti-crime unit and then ignored him when he tried to find out about the matter.

De Lille on Monday announced that she had briefed her lawyers on “malicious and defamatory remarks” Smith made. They were expected to advise her on what actions to take.

This follows reports last week that she had ordered the shutting down of the City of Cape Town’s special investigations unit (SIU).

Smith oversees the unit, which now has a new mandate.

Previously the unit investigated matters including taxi and gang violence, arson-related wildfires, xenophobic attacks and land invasions.

However, members may now only probe matters within the safety and security directorate.

It emerged last week there were rumours that irregular security equipment installations at De Lille’s home may have led to her shutting down the unit.

However, on Sunday city speaker Dirk Smit denied this in a statement.

Two days earlier, on Friday, the city issued a statement saying it had discovered that the internal investigations unit was exceeding its mandate.

The unit’s mandate was therefore changed and it is no longer allowed to investigate external matters.

In her statement on Monday, De Lille elaborated on this.

“We all know that crime fighting is the responsibility of the SAPS under national government,” she said.

‘Cowboys and crooks’
“JP Smith wants to play cowboys and crooks by releasing all kinds of statements that the metro police [are] responsible for fighting crime.”

Further details about tensions between her and Smith are contained in a submission he made about De Lille’s order to have the SIU shut down.

Smith’s submission, dated August 20, was sent to, among others, DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

In it, Smith said De Lille had asked him how far the investigation into the murder of DA ward councillor Xolile Gwangxu, who was shot dead in Philippi East in June.

He had replied he would check on this with the SIU.

‘Poor taste’ and ‘taunts’
“The mayor must have been aware that she had shut down the SIU and that they were no longer able to undertake this investigation and that her instruction had halted the investigation,” Smith’s submission said.

“Presumably she was testing me to see if the SIU was still operating. Her request was therefore in extremely poor taste if she thought that the murder of councillor Gwangxu was a suitable subject to test or taunt me.”

Smith said that after De Lille asked about progress in the case, he approached the SIU head to find out about this “only to learn that the unit had been shut down the previous week and that all their external investigations had been abandoned”.

He said he had then found out about the “sustained and repeated efforts” of De Lille and the city speaker to shut down the SIU.

“The mayor and speaker undertook these actions in secret and without any consultation with me.”

Smith went on to say he had sent De Lille a text to see if they could talk about the shutting down of the SIU, “but she ignored me and did not reply to the text”.

Last week it emerged that the DA federal executive had set up a committee to discuss tensions within the caucus, as well as to look into the decision to have the SIU shut down.

On Monday in her statement, De Lille said: “I expressed my dissatisfaction to the party leadership, Mmusi Maimane and James Selfe, about how JP Smith is dragging my name through the mud for the sake of sensationalism.” – News24