De Lille threatens to take DA to court to force open disciplinary hearing

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille is demanding that the Democratic Alliance allow the disciplinary hearing against her to be open to the public, threatening to challenge the party in court should it remain closed.

A disciplinary hearing into De Lille’s conduct as mayor will be heard by the party’s disciplinary panel on Tuesday morning. The hearing stems from corruption allegations made against De Lille in the Steenhuisen report – an internal party investigation into de Lille, led by DA MP John Steenhuisen.

But despite the potential consequences of Tuesday’s hearing, De Lille has retained her defiance against the party.

READ MORE: De Lille vindicated by NPA announcement on Zuma

“My plan for tomorrow is that I’m going to go to the hearing at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning. I’m going to go in there and I am going to insist that I want the hearing to be open,” she told journalists.

“If the answer is ‘no’, that they will not allow the hearing to be open, I will then ask that the hearing be suspended until I can go to court and ask the court to rule that the hearing must be open,” she said.

Her demands, she said, will also include that she be provided with a list of witnesses who will be testifying in the hearings, and the names of those who have made complaints against her and details of what those complaints contain.

“We want the list of witnesses. We want to know all of those charges because in the Steenhuisen report, that I’ve taken to the high court for review, in that report there are no names of people, there are no complaints against me, there are no surnames, and there are no dates,” she said.

De Lille was speaking at a primary school in the Rondebosch East suburb in Cape Town after she delivered the keynote speech at a ceremony for land claimants who were forcefully removed from the area.

The mayor was flanked by one of her allies in the City of Cape Town, mayoral committee member Brett Heron, who conducted the ceremony. She was also praised by the local ward councillor, Siya Mamkeli, as a leader who helped accelerate land restitution in the city.

“We in the City of Cape Town, we actually are under the true leadership and a trusted one … I want to say I thank you for that,” Mamkeli told De Lille as she was applauded.

But the DA has stated that there are councillors in the City who fiercely oppose De Lille’s leadership and who allege that she was involved in covering up dodgy tender deals and gave jobs to her friends.

De Lille has denied the allegations against her and, on Tuesday, also accused the party of not providing her with a full list of the charges against her.

As De Lille was speaking to journalists on Monday morning, DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe released a statement making it clear that the party had not changed its mind on a closed hearing.

“Internal party disciplinary issues are not generally open to the public, since it is a contractual relationship in which the public has no input or interest. It is therefore hard to imagine why this particular point is emphasised as being a ‘key consideration’,” he said in a statement.

“To suggest, as Ms De Lille does, that the hearing can only be fair if the public are able to assess it as such for themselves, is of course devoid of any truth in law or fact,” he said.

Selfe rejected de Lille’s claim that she did not know the full details of the charges against her, saying she had been served with the charge sheet on January 31.

He also denied De Lille’s allegation that she had not been provided an opportunity to state her case during the Steenhuisen investigation. De Lille said that the Steenhuisen report findings against her were unfair because her side of the story had not been provided.

“I was actually found guilty on issues which I’ve never been afforded an opportunity to state my case. Like they are hellbent on getting rid of me, I am hellbent on clearing my name,” she said.

Selfe said, however, that she was given “several occasions” to respond to the allegations.

“She preferred not to,” he said.

“This notwithstanding she was sent a list of allegations made against her and given the opportunity to answer them in writing. She did so. She was also given the chance to address the Federal Executive which is unprecedented,” he said.

The hearing is set to begin at 9am on Tuesday and end on Friday. The mayor said, however, that she’ll be sleeping easy on Monday night.

“I’ve always been ready because I’ve been fighting to get this day that’s coming tomorrow, because a lot of reputational damage has been done to my name,” she said. 

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Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

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