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De Lille gets first victory in DA battle

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.

Ousted Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille on Friday won a minor victory in her bid to retain her DA membership and her mayoral chain.

De Lille brought an urgent court application to have her membership restored and remain mayor pending an application to review and set aside the DA’s decision to terminate her membership on Tuesday. The review application will be heard on May 25.

Judges Patrick Gamble and Monde Samela interdicted the Independent Electoral Commission from filling her position as a city councillor pending the main application. The court reserved judgment on her application to have her membership and mayoral position restored.

Her counsel‚ Dali Mpofu‚ SC‚ told the court that De Lille was at risk as she had been stripped of her bodyguards.

“They have already taken away her bodyguards‚” said Mpofu. “She may be vulnerable‚ there are people outside (court)‚ some are supporting her and some are against her.”

Mpofu added: “The status quo is that [De Lille] is still a member of DA‚ a councillor and a mayor.”

But the DA opposed the interim relief sought by De Lille.

“We submit that the application must fail‚” DA counsel‚ Sean Rosenberg‚ SC‚ told the court. “[De Lille] is not asking for the preservation of the status quo‚ she seeks the reversal of the situation‚ that is a radical remedy. Putting her in charge of a major metro is risky.”

De Lille and the DA have been communicating through lawyers for some time. She already had two matters in the high court related to her disciplinary hearing. She wants to compel the party to release the evidence it relied on to charge her‚ including a 30-page letter written by Cape Town councillor JP Smith complaining about her alleged misconduct‚ among other things.

At the party’s Cape Town offices‚ James Selfe‚ the chairman of the DA’s federal executive‚ said De Lille’s announcement during an interview with talk show host Eusebius McKaiser on Radio 702 on April 26‚ that she would resign from the DA after clearing her name cost her membership – and her mayoral chain.

Selfe said the DA had revoked a section of the DA’s constitution that states that: “A member ceases to be a member when he or she … publicly declares his or her intention to resign … from the party.”

De Lille told the party‚ when confronted about her utterances‚ that she referred to resigning as mayor but the DA’s federal legal executive found that the context showed that she intended to leave the party. Selfe said after the executive decided that De Lille’s membership had ended‚ the disciplinary hearing which De Lille faced‚ for alleged misconduct‚ was no longer necessary and wished De Lille well for the future.

“This has been confusing time for the citizens of Cape Town‚ for which the DA sincerely apologises‚” said Selfe. “We recognise that we will need to build trust with the voters‚ and will do our utmost best to ensure that we get back to the business of governing Cape Town.”

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