High Court halts Knysna municipality's plans to pay salaries to political appointees

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The Western Cape High Court.
The Western Cape High Court.
Ashraf Hendricks
  • The Western Cape High Court has halted the payment of salaries to seven political office bearers in the Knysna municipality. 
  • This after the DA took the matter to court to challenge council's approval of posts for political office bearers. 
  • The municipality said it had not officially received the judgment and could not comment.

The Western Cape high court has granted an interdict against the Knysna Municipality to halt the salaries of seven political appointees. 

This after the DA took the matter to court following a special council meeting in September during which the council approved the creation of various support staff roles for political office bearers. 

The seven posts were filled in October. 

The DA approached the court on two bases: to stop the illegal salary payments in the first instance, and to declare the changes to the organogram and subsequent appointments unconstitutional.

In his judgment handed down on Friday, Judge Robert Henny slammed the conduct of the Knysna municipality's leadership, particularly the mayor, deputy mayor and acting municipal manager.

He said:

Given the flagrant and shameless conduct of the mentioned respondents [mayor, deputy mayor and acting municipal manager] who were prepared to commit fraud on this court, should this court not grant the relief sought by the applicants [the DA], irreparable harm is likely to result if the remedy is not granted.

Henny added the appointments were unlawful and would result in irregular spending.

"They did not care whether their conduct would amount to fruitless, wasteful and irregular spending of public money despite being aware thereof."

The second part of the application, which seeks to declare the appointments unconstitutional, will be ruled upon in January, according to the DA. 

In August, the DA was removed from power in Knysna after several motions of no confidence in the mayor, deputy mayor, speaker and chief whip during a special council meeting. Knysna is now controlled by the ANC, PA, EFF and Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners (PBI).

The municipality said it had not officially received the judgment and, therefore, could not comment until it had been studied. 

The DA's Knysna constituency head, Dr Dion George, said:

The DA will not stand by while the coalition of corruption captures and destroys our town, as the ANC has done across South Africa. The judgment is a victory for democracy, and it is a victory in our fight against corruption and cadre deployment.

Western Cape ANC leader Cameron Dugmore said they were studying the judgment.

"We expect our councillors to follow the law and the relevant municipal prescripts. There is nothing wrong with appointing role-playing staff to support political office bearers, but due process must be followed," he said. 

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