Cape Town appoints acting commissioner to replace official implicated in De Lille allegations

2018-01-22 19:44


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Cape Town – The City of Cape Town on Monday appointed an acting commissioner for its Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA) following the recent suspension of its senior transport head.

Gershwin Fortune, portfolio manager for integrated transport, will start his job immediately following the suspension of Melissa Whitehead on Friday, January 19, as a result of the alleged covering up of irregularities in which embattled Mayor Patricia de Lille is implicated.

Whitehead's suspension came after a special sitting by council members on Friday to discuss, among other things, allegations of fraud and tender irregularities levelled against Whitehead and De Lille, as well as the water crisis.

News24 learnt that during a closed session, council voted to place Whitehead on precautionary suspension pending an investigation into her conduct.

De Lille remains in her job.

Fortune has 19 years relevant work experience which includes predominantly local government and, to a lesser extent, international experience as an urban transport specialist for the World Bank, the City said in a statement.

'We have a lot of work to do'

"The TDA is spearheading a number of projects that are critical to the spatial transformation of our city, and in establishing an integrated public transport system that will bring down the cost of transport and the time residents spend on commuting between their homes and work. The turn-around plan for urban commuter rail, and the provision of affordable and inclusionary housing on well-located land, count among the key priorities we will be focusing on in the coming months," said councillor Brett Herron, the city's member of the mayoral committee for transport and urban development.

He said Fortune would oversee these projects, as well as a number of other initiatives.

"We have a lot of work to do, and I am enthusiastic and excited about seeing these projects come to fruition," said Herron.

About two weeks ago, council decided that Whitehead and city manager Achmat Ebrahim should be charged.

During the confidential council meeting, an investigation into De Lille was ordered following allegations that she prevented Ebrahim from reporting allegations against Whitehead to the council.

Both Ebrahim and Whitehead had been given time to submit reasons why they should not be suspended.

Ebrahim resigned on January 12.

Alleged irregular expenditure

News24 reported last week that previously, during a special confidential council meeting, it was ordered that independent investigators probe allegations levelled against, among others, De Lille, Ebrahim and Whitehead.

Independent investigators from Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys investigated the allegations and compiled a report on what they had found.

In the report, which the City of Cape Town has kept confidential, Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys found that De Lille may be guilty of gross misconduct for allegedly advising Ebrahim that he need not report to the city council an allegation of misconduct against Whitehead.

ALSO READ: The 8 main accusations against De Lille

The allegation related to alleged irregularities involving payments to the companies Volvo and Scania for bus chassis.

The Bowman Gilfillan report said a forensic report presented prima facie evidence that "the commissioner (Whitehead) was involved in irregular expenditure in relation to payments in the aggregate amount of R43 801 807.06 made to Volvo for 29 bus chassis".

It also found that payments totalling R29 584 368 made to Scania for 24 bus chassis during June 2014 were irregular.

Read more on:    da  |  cape town

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