Patricia De Lille wins bid to be temporarily reinstated

2018-05-15 14:05
Patricia de Lille will hear her fate. (Gallo Images, file)

Patricia de Lille will hear her fate. (Gallo Images, file)

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The Western Cape High Court has granted Patricia de Lille's urgent request for the temporary suspension of the Democratic Alliance's decision to terminate her membership.

De Lille and the DA were in court on Tuesday for judgment on De Lille's urgent application to be reinstated for the next two weeks, after the party terminated her membership, and thus her mayoral position, last Tuesday, May 8.

SCROLL: 'I feel very exhausted' - De Lille after latest court battle allows for return to mayoral office

This is so that the court can review the merits of her removal in full on Friday, May 25.

Judges Patrick Gamble and Monde Samela on Tuesday handed down the judgment at 13:15.

Gamble listed the requirements for granting urgent interim relief. While dismissing some of De Lille's arguments as being urgent, the court found she had established a prima facie right regarding the procedural aspects in which she was removed.

The balance of convenience also favoured De Lille's temporary reinstatement, as the ongoing confusion in the City of Cape Town was not desirable, especially considering the upcoming budget vote and the ongoing water crisis.

It was therefore also not inconceivable that there could be further legal challenges in future, and that the reviewing court next week could reserve judgment too. All the while, the City's management would have to endure "chopping or changing" of executive positions.

"Preservation of the status quo as it existed immediately before Ms De Lille was informed of the decision of FedEx last Tuesday morning, is in our view, the only reasonable alternative in the prevailing circumstances," Gamble said.

"The order of the court is as follows... the notice of [the DA's] federal executive to the effect that [De Lille] ceases to be a member, is suspended, and will have no force and effect, and the effect thereof is that the applicant will remain in office."

Gamble said that De Lille, now that she has been reinstated, must undertake to subject herself to party discipline in the interim.

The court rejected de Lille's submission that, during the radio interview that led to her cessation, she had only declared her intention to resign as mayor, not from the party.

It was "recognised" that the applicant intended to leave the party upon clearing her name, Gamble said, the merits of which will be debated next week.

He also said the reviewing court will ultimately be in the best position to rule on the issue of costs when it meets on May 25.

De Lille will now return to work pending the full court review of the merits of the DA's decision next Friday. Her mayoral committee will also be reinstated before the intention to cease her membership.

Patricia de Lille leaving the Cape High Court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

IEC interdicted

The Western Cape High Court reserved judgment in De Lille's urgent application on Friday following a six-hour hearing, keeping the City of Cape Town waiting for a few more days to find out who its mayor was, at least in the interim.

It did however, interdict the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) from filling De Lille's vacancy until the matter was concluded in court.

Advocate Dali Mpofu SC, who represents De Lille, argued in the main that De Lille's removal was unlawful and incorrectly applied.

The court should therefore grant the urgent relief requested until the merits can be fully debated when they come back next Friday, he said.

READ: DA wants De Lille to explain SMS allegedly sent over key City post

Opposing counsel for the DA, Sean Rosenberg SC, argued that De Lille's removal had already occurred, and that an "urgent interdict" against such a removal would therefore not make sense, as the "horse had bolted".

Instead, the parties should come back in two weeks to review the matter in full, while the City is able to function under Neilson, who "had the authority" to appoint a new mayoral committee.

DA spokesperson Natasha Mazzone on Friday promised Capetonians that service delivery would continue in the interim and as a party, they would respect the pending outcome.

De Lille had said that, in her view, she still considered herself the mayor legally, and her team will argue that again next week.

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