/ 25 June 2018

High Court to deliver judgment on DA vs De Lille on Wednesday

On the first day of arguments
On the first day of arguments

The Western Cape High Court will deliver judgment on Wednesday in Patricia de Lille’s application to have the Democratic Alliance’s decision to strip her of her membership reviewed and set aside.

De Lille tweeted on Monday that the judgment would be delivered at 09:30 on Wednesday.

Judgment was reserved in the matter on June 5 after two days of argument.

De Lille had asked a full Bench to rule on whether the termination of her party membership, for comments she had made on radio, was procedurally flawed and unconstitutional.

The party accused De Lille of breaching one of its clauses during a radio 702 interview, where the mayor signalled a public intention to resign upon clearing her name of allegations levelled against her.

On the first day of arguments, Advocate Dali Mpofu, SC, for De Lille, argued that the DA’s use of the cessation clause was unconstitutional, unfair and in bad faith.

The DA was “trying to have it both ways” when it came to removing her, he argued.

Her removal ultimately was not about her membership, but about her continuing to be the mayor of Cape Town, he said.

READ MORE: What did De Lille really mean when she said she would resign?

Her second advocate, Johan de Waal, SC, criticised the DA’s decision, which had such large-scale implications for the city, over radio comments that were “conditional”.

The DA had also not followed its own procedures in appointing the federal legal commission panel that made the determination, and when the party notified the city of De Lille’s removal, De Waal said.

Advocate Sean Rosenberg, SC, for the DA, argued that De Lille showed a clear intention to resign from the party during the infamous radio interview in late April.

It was also clear from the interview that the relationship between De Lille and the party had “irretrievably broken down” and that her exit was not a matter of if, but when.

The words used, therefore, fell within the ambit of the DA’s “cessation clause” and De Lille set the wheels in motion.

The judges seemingly took a dim view of being asked to intervene in a political matter between a member and her party.

Judge André le Grange remarked that it was the DA federal executive (FedEx) and legal commission’s job to make that determination, based on the contract between party and member.

As the DA could not presumably follow through with De Lille’s removal unequivocally, did it now want the court “to pull the trigger?” he asked rhetorically.

The charges against De Lille could also potentially “hang” over the city, he added.

Rosenberg said that the member decided to approach the courts and it was within the court’s jurisdiction to make a ruling on whether De Lille had stated an intention to resign.

Meanwhile, De Lille and DA chief whip John Steenhuisen found themselves exchanging words over Twitter last week, following comments Steenhuisen allegedly made in the Cape Times.

In a separate matter, she will on Thursday ask the courts to compel the DA to provide evidence used against her in an internal report compiled by Steenhuisen earlier this year.

READ MORE: De Lille applies for the full ‘DA spy tapes’ record

De Lille returned to her post as mayor temporarily after being granted interim relief on May 15.

The Cape Town City council however stripped her of her executive powers on May 31, leaving her with only ceremonial duties.

She indicated in court that she would also challenge that aspect of her case, but only at a later date. — News 24