Three senior City of Cape Town officials, including the city manager, have seven days to provide reasons why they should not be placed on “precautionary suspension” after the City Council unanimously adopted a motion to investigate them.
City Manager Achmat Ebrahim, Transport Development Authority Commissioner Melissa Whitehead and Mayor Patricia de Lille’s executive director, Craig Kesson, must make their individual submissions by next week Tuesday, the motion reads.
The motion, seen by News24, was brought by Cape Town Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson in a “confidential” council meeting on Tuesday morning.
It states that, due to the “serious allegations” against the officials, the council’s Audit and Performance Audit Committee must appoint an independent investigator.
The investigator should conclude their probe within 30 days. The committee, De Lille and Ebrahim will then have seven days to make submissions to the City Council.
Ebrahim was also instructed to hand over all relevant documents to the committee.
“Given the allegations against senior councillors and administrators, it is impractical and inappropriate for any person within Council to appoint or carry out any investigation into the matter,” the motion reads.
News24 earlier reported that Whitehead was at the forefront of a series of allegations, including that she employed close friends in senior positions, irregularly benefitted from a Chinese electrical bus tender, and had favoured a particular bid in the City’s delayed Foreshore project.
Senior sources within the DA caucus told News24 that Ebrahim and De Lille had shut down a forensic investigation into Whitehead.
The sources alleged that Ebrahim had instructed a forensic official, under instruction from De Lille, to discontinue the investigation.
The official is said to have been removed from the City’s administration.
Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development Brett Herron is also accused of overlooking Whitehead’s activities, despite being her direct superior.
‘Welcomed the decision’
The City of Cape Town and De Lille’s spokesperson, Zara Nicholson, are yet to respond to detailed questions from News24 on the matter.
On Tuesday afternoon, Democratic Alliance Federal Council chairperson James Selfe “welcomed the decision” to establish an independent investigation.
The City of Cape Town is a DA-run administration.
“We have every confidence that the independent investigator will test the allegations appropriately and that, if evidence of wrongdoing is found, the Council will deal decisively with the individuals concerned,” Selfe said.
The DA has not yet ruled on alleged misconduct by De Lille relating to security upgrades at her Pinelands home.
De Lille and Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith were recently suspended from DA activities, including attending party caucus meeting.
De Lille resigned as Western Cape DA leader in January to focus on her mayoral duties. —News24