/ 24 October 2018

De Lille goes after Bowmans report

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 — Patricia de Lille
"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" — Patricia de Lille (David Harrison/M&G)

In what may be her final days in the mayoral seat, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is facing allegations of corruption stemming from an independent investigation by law firm Bowmans. She is now seeking to discredit the report and accuses her adversaries in the city council of trying to taint her reputation.

De Lille has hit back at Bowmans for producing two reports with different conclusions.

The Mail & Guardian has seen both reports and can confirm their legitimacy. The first is a 34-page investigation which deals solely with allegations against De Lille, while the second is a 1 998-page report delving into allegations against councillors and city officials, as well as De Lille.

The two reports make similar findings against De Lille in connection with tender irregularities, but they differ in their conclusions. The smaller report indicates De Lille was not guilty of misconduct when she failed to report irregularities in the MyCiti Volvo chassis deal, while the bigger report recommends that council sanction De Lille and refers specifically to the Municipal Systems Act (MSA).

The MSA states that a councillor who influences another staff member to not fulfil their obligations can be held liable for a fine on conviction or imprisonment for up to two years.

De Lille is accused of preventing former city manager Achmat Ebrahim from reporting tender irregularities in the Volvo deal — which was allegedly facilitated by former transport commissioner Melissa Whitehead — to the city council.

But the mayor has written to Bowmans to ask why the two reports have different conclusions.

“I cannot understand how the same company conducting the same investigation, on the same charge can come to two different conclusions,” she said in a statement on Wednesday. “I can confirm that my lawyers have now written to Bowmans to seek clarity on this and requested a response by end of business today. Once I receive their response, discuss it with my lawyers and pending the decision of Council tomorrow regarding which of the two reports they will adopt, I will then be in the position to announce what my next steps will be.”

The two reports will be tabled in a closed Council session on Thursday afternoon as the final item on the agenda. The Council will then be expected to discuss the reports and make decisions on what recommendations and conclusions it will adopt.

Both reports were commissioned by Council following allegations of misconduct which implicated senior officials and councillors in the City of Cape Town. The report so far has implicated Whitehead, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development Brett Herron, and Ebrahim.

Rumours swirled on Wednesday morning that De Lille would be announcing that she planned to stay on as mayor, despite earlier stating she would resign at the end of October, as per an agreement with the DA.

But she made no mention of resigning in her statement. Her relationship with the party appears, however, to have further deteriorated following alleged leaks of both reports.

“So I am not surprised that there has once again been a very strategic leak of information whilst I was away on official business for three days. This is consistent with the smear campaign that I have been the subject of since in the inception of this investigation last year,” she said.

The mayor said she will subject herself to “to all the necessary processes to have my name cleared”.

Council will decide later on Thursday at the end of the day’s agenda on what steps will be taken.