Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor Nora Grose, who faces charges of fraud and money laundering valued at R170 000, will continue working as usual as the case “runs its course,” says Felicity Purchase, the speaker of the City of Cape Town.
Grose is the councillor of ward 23 which includes areas such as Melkbosstrand, Blaauwbergstrand and Table View. The charges brought against her on Thursday, 20 May form part of a multi-faceted investigation led by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks).
After erroneously implicating Grose in fraud relating to the Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (Ters) scheme, the Hawks quickly corrected their error confirming the councillor remains a second suspect in a broader investigation running alongside Grose’s case.
The backtracking by the Hawks sparked remarks from the DA’s Emma Powell saying “there seems to be a deliberate attempt from certain quarters to sub-join and conflate what are clearly two separate matters”.
Newly sworn-in speaker, Purchase told the Mail & Guardian “she [Grose] has not been found guilty of any charge. In fact, we’re not even sure of the charges because they [Hawks] have retracted one. So everything stays as it is as it [the case] runs its course.”
Purchase says Grose remains in her position until proven guilty.
“There is a legal issue which comes into play. The membership of a councillor is only terminated or disqualified if you’re convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine,” explains Purchase.
Referring to Cape Town mayor Dan Plato’s earlier response, Purchase argued Grose “has not been implicated in any of the humanitarian relief” due to the fact that counsellors “don’t come into contact with any cash in that regard at all”.
“The mayor has made a statement, and the mayor’s statement stands,” she said.
In that statement, the city said it was “working with authorities to recover unspent grant funding transferred from an Atlantis-based NGO to a church”.
But the city distanced itself from any criminal allegations, arguing the “funds went towards the intended purpose of food relief”.
“All allegations regarding malpractice by a city councillor were investigated by the City of Cape Town’s office of the speaker and no malpractice was found,” Plato said.
Purchase says the context of the offence and the nature of the sentence must be evident before any kind of sanction against any councillor is considered.
Grose handed herself over to the Hawks’ serious corruption investigation team in Atlantis before her first court appearance in the Atlantis magistrate’s court on Thursday last week.
She was released on R10 000 bail and is expected back in court on 21 June.