De Lille saga: August and DA in spat over victimisation complaints

2018-10-30 18:54
Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille

Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille (Adrian de Kock)

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Shaun August, former DA chief whip in the Cape Town council, claims that concerns about the victimisation of DA councillors who didn't vote for a motion of no confidence against outgoing Mayor Patricia de Lille earlier this year fell on deaf ears.

But the party says the allegations are part of an attempt to obfuscate allegations against De Lille and that August himself thwarted attempts to address the acrimony in the Cape Town DA caucus.

August resigned as chief whip and DA councillor during Thursday's dramatic city council meeting shortly after De Lille delivered an address to council in which she railed against her detractors and dismissed the allegations against her "as racist bully attacks".

READ: Maimane has not apologised 'for lying about us' – former DA City of Cape Town chief whip

Suzette Little, Siya Mamkeli, Greg Bernardo and Thulani Stemele followed suit. 

Addressing the media after their exit from the boardroom, they accused the DA of racism. August also said he raised the subject of victimisation of DA councillors who didn't support the motion.

On Tuesday he released two letters he sent to DA federal council chairperson James Selfe in February relating to the alleged victimisation.

No response from 'James Selfe and his cronies'

"I have recently stated in the media that I have previously written (on behalf of councillors) to the DA leadership about the issues of intimidation of the 'DA 40' and how we needed to establish a mediation process, give councillors protection and establish unity in the caucus," August said in the accompanying statement.

He said he was yet to receive a response from "James Selfe and his cronies".

"The blatant disregard for our concerns has been consistent due to the lack of response and ignorance from James Selfe. 

"This is one example of many of our complaints which have never been taken seriously and where no response has been given."

Among the complaints of victimisation, as related in one of August's letters to Selfe, are the following: 

  • Neighbourhood watches were informed that the councillors who voted against the motion of no confidence were undermining the fight against gangsterism;
  • Councillors who voted against the motion were accused of being part of a group that removed the City's special investigations unit (SIU);
  • Councillors who voted no to the motion were accused of adding the names of gangsters to the SIU "hit list", a move which has possibly put their lives at risk;
  • An email from a councillor said that those who voted against the motion had committed treason;
  • A group of councillors were tasked with checking who had voted no while the vote was proceeding, and intimidating those who had been found out; and
  • A family member of a councillor who voted no was victimised by members of the DA.

The letters August released did not include any complaints of racism.

When contacted for comment, Selfe referred the matter to his deputy, Thomas Walters, who he said has been dealing with the matter, for comment.

Walters said the party's federal structure received a litany of complaints, some of them against August and his confidantes.

He said August was circulating the letter "completely devoid of context" to try to "create the illusion of overall factuality for his wild allegations meant to detract from a very simple issue, namely an independent investigation that contains damning findings inter alia against Patricia de Lille".

"The timing is no coincidence," Walters said.

According to Walters, the DA requires complaints to be dealt with at local level first, before being escalated to the federal structure.  

Disciplinary procedure

"It was clear that the relevant executives, caucus executive and regional executives, where normally such complaints are first aired in terms of DA processes, were wilfully being sidestepped to overload and delay our disciplinary processes at a federal level," Walters said.

"This complaint as well as others – both against and by August – were referred back to the relevant executive, in this case the caucus executive of which August is the chief whip charged in terms of his duties with exactly this type of issue."

He said the purpose of this was to restore the DA's disciplinary procedure that was being undermined and to identify which complaints were frivolous and which could be mediated. 

"This proposal to refer was unanimously agreed to by both Patricia de Lille and Shaun August as it also emanated from the agreement by herself with the party," Walters said.

He said the federal executive also agreed to a federal disciplinary investigation into any complaints that could not be resolved in this manner.

"It was clear that Shaun August did not cooperate with this process despite his initial agreement and I was in the process entering [into] the matter as a mediator – again with unanimous agreement – when Shaun August left the party.

"In summary, he agreed to a process to resolve inter alia this complaint, then failed to cooperate with it, agreed to further mediation, then left the party claiming nothing was being done."

Read more on:    da  |  patricia de lille  |  shaun august

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