Law firm asks for access to Patricia de Lille and other officials' computers

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille. (Gallo images/Getty images)
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille. (Gallo images/Getty images)

Cape Town - A law firm has asked for access to computers from the office of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and two other officials, in the latest development to rattle the City.

De Lille said in a statement that she welcomed the investigation activities.

"As part of the Council resolution on 5 January 2018 to appoint an independent investigator, Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys, to probe various allegations related to the electric bus tender, myself and two staff members in my office voluntarily handed over our computers today as part of the ongoing investigation," she said.

"As stated before, I welcome the investigation and remain committed to cooperating fully with the process. The computers which were handed over to Bowman Gilfillan earlier today were returned to my office later this afternoon," she said.

Transport Mayoral Committee Member Brett Herron confirmed his support for the investigation.

"As part of their investigation into allegations against Melissa Whitehead, City of Cape Town's Commissioner, Transport and Urban Development Authority, forensic investigators from Bowman Gilfillan have requested access to the data on the computers in my office," he said in a statement.

"In the interests of a thorough investigation into this matter, I fully support this review of the computer data in my office and to that end I am co-operating fully with the request from Bowman Gilfillan."

Herron said the computers had not been "confiscated" or "seized" and that his office had not been "raided".

He said it was "a polite request" to allow Bowman Gilfillan auditors access to data.

"I have nothing to hide from any investigation and I look forward to an end to this matter," Herron said.

It was not immediately clear who the third affected staff member was.

The development is the latest to rock the City of Cape Town's senior officials.

Infighting - involving claims and counterclaims, investigations, reports and legal action - has in recent months gripped the City of Cape Town's leadership and culminated, earlier this month, in Mayor Patricia de Lille surviving a motion of no confidence against her.

READ: De Lille survives motion of no confidence

Herron was previously interviewed by Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys as part of an independent investigation into allegations against several City officials.

During a previous special confidential meeting, the City council ordered an investigation into De Lille over allegations that she prevented then-city manager Achmat Ebrahim from reporting allegations against Whitehead to the council.

Ebrahim subsequently resigned and Whitehead was suspended.

A confidential report, dated December 29 and based on Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys’ investigation, found there was evidence to suggest that De Lille may be guilty of gross misconduct.

READ: Confidential report reveals De Lille may be ‘guilty of gross misconduct’

Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys said key individuals had been interviewed, and supporting evidence had been reviewed when investigating the allegations.

"As stated above, on [Ebrahim's] own version, and supported by the documentation referred to above, the [city manager], the [executive mayor] and possibly a number of other officials may be guilty of inter alia gross misconduct with regard to their failure to report the matter to council as was clearly required," it said.

The independent investigator's report said the forensic report presented prima facie evidence that "the commissioner (Whitehead) was involved in irregular expenditure in relation to payments in the aggregate amount of R43 801 807.06 made to Volvo for 29 bus chassis".

It also found that payments totalling R29 584 368, made to Scania for 24 bus chassis during June 2014, were irregular.

However, De Lille had criticised Bowman Gilfillan for not being willing to amend incorrect facts in their report.

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