Durban mayor ordered to pay costs after failing to appear for alleged threats over anti-Zuma marches

2018-07-05 15:09
eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede. (File, Netwerk24)

eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede. (File, Netwerk24)

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Durban Mayor Zandile Gumede must pay out of her own pocket for the costs of an urgent KwaZulu-Natal High Court application launched by the DA in response to her alleged threats that anyone taking part in last year's "Zuma must fall" protest march in the City would be arrested.

This is the ruling of Judge Johan Ploos van Amstel who said that either through poor legal advice or disdain, the mayor had chosen not to properly explain on an affidavit whether or not she had made the alleged statement.

"She says nothing about the interest she personally took in this application, any inquiries she made...she seems to have manifested a lack of interest in the conduct of the matter."

ALSO READ: Keep it legal, eThekwini mayor warns Zuma marchers

"Court orders have to be taken seriously, regardless of position or status. Her approach to this matter seems to [me] to have bordered on the disrespectful," he said.

The DA went to court the day before the march, on April 7 last year, and secured an order stopping the mayor from repeating her threat of arrest, which she allegedly made to an SABC radio journalist who claimed she had called the protests "nasty marches".

It was recorded that the participants were entitled to march because they had written permission from the Durban Metro Police Department.

Letter sent to SABC

It was also recorded that the mayor must come back to court to explain why she should not personally pay the costs of the application.

Despite the order being emailed to Gumede, her personal assistant and affixed to the door of her office by the Sheriff, when the matter came back to court, no one from her legal team attended the hearing and the personal costs order was confirmed.

The issue came before Ploos van Amstel in an application by Gumede to rescind the order.

Gumede again "did not deign" to file an affidavit.

Instead, the City's chief legal adviser said when the first order came to her attention, she instructed that a letter be sent to the SABC demanding a retraction of the story, because "the statement is false and she did not actually say that".

The SABC complied.

'Inadmissible hearsay'

It was argued that had her legal representatives informed the judge of this, the personal costs order would not have been made. The fact that they didn't was because the matter had not been diarised properly.

Ploos van Amstel said Gumede had failed to explain why this had happened and what was before him – the affidavit from the chief legal adviser – was all "inadmissible hearsay".

"The legal adviser dealing with the matter did not put up an affidavit…it is not unlikely that this is because he would not have supported the excuse offered," he said.

With regard to the complaint to the SABC, Ploos van Amstel said in the letter it was stated "upon our verification it has been found that the statement is false, and the mayor did not actually say that".

"It does not state the basis for this," he said.

"There is no unequivocal statement by the mayor that she did not say what the journalist reported she had said. Nor is there any explanation of the circumstances relating to the interview or what she claims she had, in fact, said.

Mayor considering appeal

"In this (rescission) application she must state clearly what her defence is and must demonstrate that it is bona fide, as opposed to a tactical denial.

"The evidence is sketchy and inadequate and I am not persuaded that she has made out a case for the rescission of the cost order," he said.

DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango said the significance of the case was that government leaders and politicians can no longer make "irresponsible remarks on public platforms and use taxpayers' money to defend themselves in court".

The mayor is studying the judgment and considering an appeal.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  sabc  |  zandile gumede  |  durban  |  courts  |  media

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