Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s legal team is preparing to file a court application to force the Democratic Alliance to hand over all the documents and evidence it used to make a case against her.
So far, the only documents the DA has submitted are the Steenhuisen report and De Lille’s response to it, according to advocate Johan de Waal, who represents De Lille. The report was compiled after a subcommittee of the DA’s federal executive investigated De Lille’s conduct as mayor. The report’s allegations led to disciplinary action being taken against De Lille.
On Thursday, De Lille’s high court application to review the DA’s decision to accept chief whip John Steenhuisen’s report was delayed, because of a “dispute about the record”.
De Waal told the Mail & Guardian that the DA has refused to submit a full record to the court.
De Lille’s legal team will now launch an interlocutory application to force the DA to submit the record.
The M&G has seen the draft heads of arguments in the application in which De Lille’s legal team refers to a DA letter in which the party refused to file the full record because “your client is now seeking to review an internal preliminary process”.
Central to De Lille’s application will be an argument about the scope of the Rule 53 record, in what her legal team has dubbed the “DA’s version of the spy tapes”.
Elzanne Jonker, the attorney for the DA, said the party’s legal team had met the judge president of the Western Cape High Court on Thursday morning to discuss a timetable for the De Lille cases. Jonker said she has not yet seen De Lille’s argument in her interlocutory application but that the party would argue that the report is an internal party matter and is therefore not subject to the Rule 53 record.
“We say she’s not entitled to the record, because it’s an internal party process and it’s not like a decision or ruling. There were also no findings made,” Jonker said.
She also said that the party was reluctant to divulge where its information came from, because people had made submissions believing they were confidential.
“The whole basis … was confidentiality … One could maybe have a redacted record or something like that,” said Jonker. “But I can’t commit to any of it if I don’t know what they’re alleging.”
Judge Kate Savage had ordered the DA to submit the record by February 2 but the deadline passed without the documents De Lille’s team wanted to be filed.
According to De Waal, one of the key pieces of evidence De Lille is demanding is an SMS the report claims she sent to manipulate the reappointment of Achmat Ebrahim as the manager of the City of Cape Town.
The report says De Lille sent the SMS to a member of the selection panel. The SMS apparently reads: “I want to keep Achmat so score him the highest. Thanks.” De Waal says neither he nor De Lille has seen the SMS and they do not know who it was sent to.
Ebrahim resigned as city manager in January.
De Lille is also asking for any other evidence that informed the report’s allegations.
The Steenhuisen investigation was sparked after JP Smith, deputy leader of the Cape Town caucus, handed over a dossier on De Lille to DA leader Mmusi Maimane and federal executive chairperson James Selfe. Included in the dossier was a 30-page letter Smith had written to Maimane and Selfe dated July 12 2017, accusing De Lille of a “lack of professionalism: abusive and insulting behaviour” and “irregular leases and property transactions”.
De Waal said this letter has also yet to be included in the record.
It’s not unclear when the interlocutory application will be finalised but De Waal said they hoped to file the court application in the next two weeks.