Outgoing Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille says she is not finished with pursuing legal action against at least 12 individuals she says defamed her over the last six months.
De Lille and Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane announced on Sunday that the mayor had decided to resign effective from October 31, while all internal disciplinary charges against her would be dropped.
Both Maimane and De Lille emphasised that they considered the result in the best interests of the party and the city, allowing both parties to move on from the saga.
De Lille, however, on Monday said she will still pursue cases of civil damages against individuals she felt had “smeared her name”.
Speaking on Radio 702 on Monday morning, De Lille said the onus was always on those accusing her of maladministration to provide the evidence against her.
“I’m not finished with them yet. I have a number of civil litigation cases lined up against people who have smeared my name in public without [providing] any evidence,” she said.
At least 12 individuals will be included in her civil suit, including deputy chief whip in Parliament Mike Waters and National Council of Provinces MP Bronwynn Engelbrecht. There are at least six councillors.
“I have kept a record of all these things,” De Lille added.
In May, two senior DA MPs had shared a fake Auditor General document on social media, in which adverse claims were made about De Lille.
Both Waters and Engelbrecht told media they had no idea the document had been altered, and said it was a travesty that someone was going out of their way to forge documents.
The party itself said at the time that the pair had fallen victim to the scourge of fake news.
De Lille also denied that she reached an “agreement” with the party to resign, despite the party saying it was a “mutual agreement” on Sunday.
“I want to assure South Africans that I did not make a deal with the DA. I took the personal decision to resign because I could no longer take the consistent abuse,” she tweeted.
“It was [a] very difficult decision and I trust that everyone will understand.”
Her private media statement on Sunday however also described it as a “mutual agreement”, and started with the words, “I am pleased to announce today that I have reached an agreement with the Democratic Alliance.”
Attempts to get further comment from De Lille on Monday were unsuccessful.
JP Smith would ‘welcome’ civil dispute
One of De Lille’s fiercest critics in the Cape Town city council, JP Smith, on Monday said he had not been informed of any suit against him or others personally, but would welcome it.
“Certainly I would welcome it, because any opportunity to test in court the veracity of the charges, I would welcome, because the accusers want their names cleared,” he told News24.
“They’ve been denied the opportunity by the fact that she (De Lille) has cut and run, and denied the opportunity to prove the allegations [after the withdrawal of the charges].
“So, we’d all be very keen on a defamation case, so we can be given a platform to prove the charges. Of course, the forensic investigation around the text message and others will speak for itself.”
De Lille had previously been accused of allegedly sending a text message to councillor Xanthea Limberg, requesting that then-candidate for city manager, Achmat Ebrahim, be given a high score.
At present, because they were “disciplined members of the party”, they would respect the agreement that has been reached, but if De Lille herself acted “outside the agreement” or pursued any action against them, they have the right to defend themselves, Smith said.
It would also give them a chance to consider laying defamation charges themselves, and to lay some of the misconduct charges with the city, which they had not done before.
Smith said he couldn’t give any further comment on the agreement De Lille had made with party leaders, as they had been prevented from doing so.
What next for the city?
De Lille will continue to serve in her capacity as mayor for the next three months until October 31, and will remain a member of the party, she told the media on Sunday.
She had not yet decided what lay ahead for her from November onwards, and couldn’t say whether she would stay on as a normal councillor.
De Lille said she remained committed to investing whatever little time she had left to complete the project of “building a better city” and contributing towards the transformation of Cape Town.
Included in this was continuing the city’s housing project and dealing with the issue of land in contentious city areas. General city business would continue as usual.
Maimane said during the briefing that a process would unfold regarding the election a new mayor, and that would be respected.
Candidates would be put forward and interviewed ahead of the proposed November 1 start date, he said.
De Lille said she would assist the incoming mayor in a smooth transition of power.
Maimane added that he was pleased that the deal allowed De Lille to remain a member of the DA. He always had respect for her calibre and her record in the city.— News24