De Lille saga: Intrigue continues as Limberg lays charge over SMS

2018-11-16 17:27
Former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille  (Jan Gerber/News24)

Former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille (Jan Gerber/News24)

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The intrigue between the DA and former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille continued this week with the High Court setting aside the findings of a damning internal report and mayoral committee member Xanthea Limberg laying a charge against De Lille.

On Tuesday, the Western Cape High Court granted an order, by agreement between the two parties, in which the DA abandoned all of the findings against De Lille in the so-called Steenhuisen report.

One of the allegations in the Steenhuisen report is that De Lille sent a "highly unethical" SMS to Limberg.

De Lille allegedly sent Limberg a text message on September 28, 2016, saying: "I want to keep Achmat so score him highest. Thanks," in an alleged attempt to unduly influence the appointment process of Achmat Ebrahim as Cape Town city manager.

De Lille has on several occasions refused to confirm or deny that she sent the SMS.

On Friday, Limberg laid criminal charges against De Lille in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act at the Cape Town Central police station.

Potential conflict of interest

Speaking to the media outside the police station, Limberg said that the DA's decision to withdraw the charges based on the Steenhuisen report didn't include criminal matters.

Limberg said she didn't respond to the SMS and handed over her phone for a forensic investigation to verify the SMS.

"I immediately raised my issues with the Democratic Alliance leadership when the matter arose. I did not report it to the city manager because he was implicated in the SMS," Limberg said, explaining why she was only laying the charges now.

"I also believed I could not at the time raise it with the MEC for local government or the speaker, because not only was Ms De Lille the mayor, she was also the provincial leader at the time and she was responsible for the performance assessments of those individuals. 

"So I believe there was a potential conflict of interest, so I followed to party disciplinary process. That is now no longer going ahead, and therefore I'm now filing a formal charge with the South African Police Service."

De Lille took to Twitter to respond to Limberg's decision to lay charges.

Charged with violating party constitution

"The latest attack on me is with this SMS regarding the appointment of the city manager. This 'SMS' was allegedly sent to Xanthea Limberg 2 years ago but is only being reported now just [like] in the case of Mr Anthony Faul. Mr Faul's case has been thrown out by the NPA," De Lille tweeted.

"For a year, I have asked for the electronic data to be handed over so that the authenticity of this alleged SMS is proven.

"On the eve of being compelled to produce the evidence of the now abandoned Steenhuisen report, which included this SMS, why would they lay charge?"

The now abandoned report, which was the result of an investigation led by DA chief whip John Steenhuisen, included findings about various allegations and culminated in a decision by the party's federal executive council in January this year to charge De Lille with misconduct in contravention of the party's constitution.

She would be investigated by the DA's federal legal commission.

In August, the DA announced it would not pursue further disciplinary steps against De Lille, and she announced that she would resign as mayor, effective November 1.

De Lille said in a statement on Thursday that the abandonment of the Steenhuisen report had brought to an end "another chapter in a year of DA dirty-tricks against me".

"They have slandered my name, attempted to ruin my hard-earned reputation and worked day and night to remove me from office based in part on the Steenhuisen findings. In the end those findings could never be substantiated and they abandoned them," De Lille said.

Charges withdrawn only because of 'deal', says DA

"I have consistently put my faith in the judiciary whenever I have been denied fairness and justice."

However, deputy chairperson of the DA's federal council Natasha Mazzone said the DA had in fact abandoned the report's findings when it withdrew its internal charges against De Lille as part of the August deal that stipulated that the DA would withdraw the internal charges and De Lille would resign.

"The DA, in the interest of people of Cape Town, decided to end the long and protracted internal disciplinary action against Ms De Lille and allow the independent council investigation to conduct its work," Mazzone said.

"The DA has always stood by the findings of the Steenhuisen report. It abandoned same with regards to De Lille only to obtain finality for the party and the City of Cape Town. The tactics used by Ms De Lille in an effort to cover up corruption have been revealed in the Bowmans report which confirms many of the Steenhuisen findings."

The Bowmans report on alleged fraud and corruption resulted in criminal charges being laid against De Lille after it was adopted by the Cape Town city council last month.  

De Lille has since lodged a court application to have the report reviewed.

Last week De Lille laid charges of fraud and defamation against four DA members, including deputy chief whip Mike Waters.

She announced her resignation as mayor and DA member on the steps of the Cape Town High Court on November 1.

Read more on:    da  |  xanthea limberg  |  patricia de ­lille
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