An attempt to remove Mayor Mongameli Bobani fell flat on Friday during a special sitting by the Nelson Mandela Bay council.
The African Christian Democratic Party’s Lance Grootboom and Congress of the People councillor Siyasanga Sijadu had submitted a motion of exigency for the removal of Bobani for debate after media reports implicated the mayor in alleged fraudulent payments by a company doing business with the municipality, causing the Hawks to swoop on the city hall.
It is alleged that Bobani is linked to fraud, corruption and money laundering related to the integrated public transport system (IPTS) from whose funds he allegedly received R664 000.
On Friday Grootboom — a former mayoral committee member under the Democratic Alliance-led coalition — stated that the executive mayor must be voted out of his position, citing corruption and theft linked to the IPTS investigation.
All the parties that form what has become known as the “black caucus” rallied together and denounced the proposal.
They said the allegations were based on a local newspaper article whose details had not been verified by the Hawks, who were investigating the matter.
The ANC’s Gamelihle Maqula said it was unfair for Bobani to be removed on the basis of unfounded allegations.
He cited the case in which he and embattled councillor Andile Lungisa were accused of assaulting fellow council member Rano Kayser.
City manager removed
“Our case ran its course and we were never removed from the council list,” said Maqula.
“Nqaba Bhanga (the DA’s premier-elect) stands accused of allegations [around] his municipality-assigned car, which was involved in a fatal car accident that left two girls dead. He is still here as the matter is being investigated,” Maqula said.
The motion was put to a vote and failed.
Two other matters on the agenda for the special council meeting were: city manager Johann Mettler’s suspension and the appointment of his replacement.
Mettler was suspended shortly after the new coalition took office.
On Friday a report was tabled on the findings of his purported corruption and the reasons why he should be dismissed, leading to a vote which resulted in his removal.
Insults could be heard from inside the hall during the closed session of the special council meeting.
DA councillors all lodged their objection to Mettler’s removal after the voting results were announced.
Sheriff of the court assaulted
The meeting took about six hours and concluded only part of the business of the day, adjourning before it could address all the items.
Meanwhile, a sheriff of the court was attacked while attempting to deliver papers of dismissal for DA councillors Mbulelo Manyati, Neville Higgins and Trevor Louw.
The trio have been causing a great deal of frustration for the DA in council since their intended resignation made headlines when they decided to abstain from voting in the DA’s favour in council.
Manyati’s abstaining from voting cost the DA the seat of the speaker of council which eventually led to the unseating of former mayor Athol Trollip and his clique from the top seats in council.
The sheriff was first assaulted by several councillors when he was allegedly allowed to enter the closed session which was discussing a green paper item, which is confidential.
A scuffle turned violent as the sheriff was being thrown out of the hall.
The DA’s Bhanga called for council members to allow the sheriff to his job.
“You can’t do this, you can’t [stop] a sheriff of the High Court from doing his work,” he screamed at the group of councillors and security guards who were trying to intervene.
Unauthorised access to be probed
Following his removal from the hall, a group of people waiting outside in the parking area cornered the sheriff, asking questions about the “unwelcome delivery”.
“Why are you serving these papers here?” they shouted.
“Do these people you are serving live here in the hall?” they asked, demanding to know why he was not serving the trio at their homes.
The sheriff was saved from the group’s wrath by the security personnel of the mayoral committee and municipal security officers.
He was escorted to a safe area and managed to elude the crowd by leaving through the back of the venue.
Council chief whip Bicks Ndoni said no one who was not a council or secretariat member was allowed to enter the venue during a green paper discussion.
“Council rules dictate that the session be closed, nobody else but councillors and the secretariat can enter during a closed session.”
He said an investigation would be conducted to find out how the sheriff was allowed inside. — News24