'I will be seeking legal advice' - Western Cape MEC Tertius Simmers responds to electricity theft claims

Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers (Jenni Evans, News24)
Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers (Jenni Evans, News24)

Good party secretary general Brett Herron has questioned Western Cape Premier Alan Winde's much-heralded "government of higher integrity" in light of alleged whistleblowers' evidence that one of his newly appointed MECs, Tertius Simmers, was guilty of electricity theft while serving as a DA councillor in George.

Herron, a former DA member said "DA members have confirmed that prima facie evidence of theft by MEC Simmers was discovered and brought to the attention of the DA's provincial leadership.

"Although the allegation that Simmers stole electricity was reported to the George police, the investigation appears to have ground to a halt after the DA George council amended the meter tampering policy to prevent officials from reporting electricity theft to SAPS for investigation.

"Instead of being held accountable, the former George councillor was first promoted to the provincial parliament as an MPL and then promoted again, to Premier Winde's much-heralded 'government of higher integrity'. 

"According to George municipality's Director of Finance, electricity theft cases remain unresolved as, 'it is the current practice not to report such matters (persons) to the South African Police Service' in terms of the new council meter tamper policy. That new tamper policy was approved by councillors, including those accused of electricity theft," said Herron. 

In response to questions from News24, Winde's spokesperson Bianca Capazorio confirmed the premier was aware of the allegations.

"Premier Winde has received a letter setting out allegations against Minister Tertius Simmers from Good's Brett Herron and is currently ensuring that proper consideration is given to its content and that the allegations made are investigated. Only once these processes have been completed, will he be able to determine an appropriate response and the way forward," she said.  

In response to questions from News24, Simmers, who is currently the Human Settlements MEC, denied the allegations saying that he "...did not tamper with the electric meter. It was fully investigated in 2016 and found to be spurious. I reported the tampering to the George municipality. To this day, we still do not know who paid for the fine.

"It is unsurprising that a few weeks after the Good party lost in the by-election in George that this old matter is resurfacing. These allegations have been brought up in the past by the Good leader, Patricia de Lille, when she was still a member of Democratic Alliance and now Mr Brett Herron is seeking to reopen it.

"There is clear malicious intent on the part of Mr Herron and I will therefore be seeking legal advice. Some are seeking to tell Good stories without the actual facts, therefore [turning] it into hogwash," Simmers added.

IOL reported that police spokesperson Malcolm Pojie had said "the case was withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority during July 2017. The case is therefore regarded as being finally closed."

Simmers and Herron clashed on Thursday at the Western Cape provincial legislature. 

Simmers refused to be drawn into answering a question from the Good party secretary general about whether the province bought land for housing at an allegedly inflated price of R64.6m because another parcel of land already owned by the City of Cape Town and earmarked for housing would turn Table View into "Khayelitsha by the sea", News24 previously reported.

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