From De Lille's bodyguard to chief whip - Shaun August on why he gave it up

2018-11-04 09:39
Shaun August with Patricia de Lille before the Independent Democrats merged with the DA. (Facebook)

Shaun August with Patricia de Lille before the Independent Democrats merged with the DA. (Facebook)

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When prison warder Shaun August first saw a formidable Patricia de Lille 16 years ago, he never dreamt that he would one day become one of her closest allies.

His loyalty for her runs deep, the former DA chief whip told News24. It was under her guidance that he ventured into politics, eventually holding what is considered the third most powerful position in the City of Cape Town.

READ: DA Cape Town chief whip Shaun August resigns in council in support of De Lille

He first spotted the firebrand when she was conducting an official oversight visit at Pollsmoor prison in 2002. De Lille, then a member of Parliament, had been speaking to a young man in the juvenile prison block of which he was in charge.

"I didn't know at the time, but he was one of the men accused of murdering her sister," he recalled.

He was struck by her genuineness and humanity as she engaged with the youngster convicted of the 1997 stabbing and mutilation of Laetitia Lindt in Wallacedene, although he admits he can't recall what the two spoke about.

READ De Lille: DA like Animal Farm - some are more equal than others

When De Lille left the PAC in 2003 to start the Independent Democrats, August signed up as a member of her new party.

'Procedure not followed under Maimane'

He became her bodyguard, travelling across the country as De Lille grew the support base of the ID, which would a year later win seven seats in the National Assembly.

August, who was born and raised in Lavender Hill on the Cape Flats, was promoted to the party's deputy national organiser in 2006, and had been part of the discussions to merge the ID with the DA with the view of unifying opposition politics.

READ: 6 questions answered about the De Lille saga

"I don't regret it. But unfortunately, the DA under Helen Zille is not the DA under Mmusi Maimane. There used to be procedure and processes. But those aren't being followed anymore," he said.

"We didn't sign up for this white cabal that is running the DA now," he claimed.

His backing of De Lille resulted in him being sidelined and victimised by those who wanted her out, August charges.

And he maintains that she was targeted because "she had served her purpose by bringing in the coloured vote" and that the party had now changed focus to the black electorate.

'It's not about position and politics'

Shaun August Patricia de Lille

Shaun August with Patricia de Lille (Facebook)

August, who was the operations manager of De Lille's election campaign that resulted in the DA garnering 66.6% of the vote in the 2016 local government elections, is said to have been instrumental in convincing opposition politicians to vote in favour of her retaining her position in the February vote of no confidence.

De Lille won by one vote. She told News24 at the time that she had been packing her belongings in her office when her staff barged into her office to tell her the motion had failed.

Sources in the party said August phoned every councillor from the opposition to convince them to not support the motion and to allow investigations into the allegations against De Lille to first be concluded.

"I had to lobby as many people as I could because I believed on principle that the motion had no basis. There was no proof of wrongdoing. The process should have been to charge and investigate, start disciplinary procedure and then make decision.

"I could not bow to the DA instructions, threats and victimisation to drive an agenda."

He refused to remain in a party behind an "unwarranted attack" on a woman he refers to as a South African icon.

"What she does is not just a career for her. It's not about position and politics. She is genuine.

"She reaches out to people and has a heart. Seeing the way she was being attacked – I just couldn't take it anymore."

He had no plan B when he resigned in a drama-filled council meeting over a week ago.

"I earned over R1m per year. Now I am unemployed," he said.

Resignation not the end

"I had a good life, but I gave it up. I saw how Patricia was bullied, how she was treated. I quit because of discrimination, racism, bullying and unfair treatment under a white cabal."

But August is far from done with politics.

He is only willing to divulge that he and six other councillors who have resigned within the last week are "in discussions", but has been mum on what their next step will be.

De Lille is on two weeks' "leave" and has asked for "time to think".

"But I am going with her, wherever she decides to go," August said.

In the meantime, he will continue to "give blows" to the DA.

"I would love to see the latest polling figures – they've lost a big chunk of their support for what they have done to Patricia," he said.

"I will be keeping them busy. I know they're coming after me. I expect it. They have a team and have gone to Pollsmoor (his former workplace) to ask about me. I have an arsenal and I've been giving blows – I must expect it in return."

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Read more on:    da  |  id  |  shaun august  |  patricia de ­lille  |  cape town

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