The Port Elizabeth High Court on Tuesday put the brakes on the United Democratic Movement’s (UDM's) court battle to have its ousted Nelson Mandela Bay deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani reinstated.
This after Judge Dayalin Chetty ruled that the matter be struck from the roll on the basis that it was not urgent. The applicants in the matter, the UDM, were also ordered to pay the costs of two counsel.
Judge Chetty wanted to know from the UDM’s lawyer why Bobani’s founding affidavit was only filed on Tuesday morning.
The two counsel then proceeded to argue on the urgency of the application.
Advocate Willie Vermeulen, for the UDM, argued that the primary basis for urgency was that if the deputy mayor’s position was filled, Bobani would have zero chance of being reappointed.
Vermeulen also argued that Bobani had suffered severe reputational damage and the matter was in public interest.
However, Advocate, Steven Budlender, for the NMB metro and speaker, argued that Vermeulen was factually wrong on the basis of law and the matter was not urgent.
Budlender said that if the application succeeded, in that the process to have Bobani ousted was found to be flawed, the person appointed would know that the position would be of “limping validity” and Bobani would have to be reinstated.
“The speaker has gone under oath to say that if part B succeeds we accept that councillor Bobani will have to be reinstated,” he said.
He added that the argument of reputational harm against Bobani was also without merit.
Budlender said that the only way of curing reputational harm, if it could be cured, was if a final interdict be granted in Bobani’s favour.
He also said that appointment of a new deputy mayor was not on Thursday’s council agenda.
Following Chetty’s order Bobani was optimistic that the matter would still come before court.
“My legal team have advised me that there is no train smash here and the matter is still going ahead. We still have to prove to the court that the decision taken to [remove] me was unprocedural.
“We can’t wait for this matter to be fast-tracked, all we want as the UDM is for the truth to prevail, ” Bobani told reporters.
Outside court, UDM lawyer Lionel Trichardt confirmed the court has only ruled on the urgency of the matter, not on the merits of the case.
The UDM had launched a civil application in the high court to interdict and restrain the municipality from implementing the August 24 decision to remove Bobani.
The UDM want Bobani reinstated as deputy mayor, saying that the vote, which removed him from office, was unconstitutional and unlawful.