Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille
Photo by: Reuters
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has placed Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services, JP Smith on special leave from party activities in the Cape metropole.
National DA spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme announced this on Tuesday.
This comes after De Lille lashed out at Smith on Monday via a press release in which she accused him of dragging her name through the mud for claims he had made about the closure of a city anti-crime unit.
On Friday News24 reported that De Lille had ordered the shutting down of the City of Cape Town’s special investigations unit (SIU), a move which unearthed shocking claims that some city councillors may have been involved in a murder and that building done at her home may not have been legal.
Smith had overseen the SIU.
Claims and rumours about De Lille are contained in a submission Smith made about De Lille's order to have the SIU shut down.
Smith's submission, dated August 20, was sent to, among others, DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
In it, Smith did not directly make accusations against De Lille, but said claims and rumours had been heard from others.
On Sunday City of Cape Town speaker Dirk Smit had issued a statement denying that there was anything irregular about security equipment installations at De Lille's home.
And then on Monday De Lille had issued her own statement, saying she had briefed her lawyers on "malicious and defamatory remarks" Smith had made.
"JP Smith wants to play cowboys and crooks by releasing all kinds of statements that the metro police [are] responsible for fighting crime," she said.
In an initial statement on Monday afternoon, De Lille had said: "I have also spoken to the DA party leadership reminding them that there is a separation between party and State and that this is an operational matter. I expressed my dissatisfaction to the party leadership, Mmusi Maimane and James Selfe about how JP Smith is dragging my name through the mud for the sake of sensationalism. "
But shortly before 21:00 this section of her statement was retracted.
It has since emerged that a meeting between Maimane, De Lille and Smith was held on Monday night.
'Allegations and counter allegations'
"In recent days various allegations and counter allegations have been made in the Cape Town press involving [De Lille] and [Smith]," Van Damme said in the statement on Tuesday.
"DA Leader Mmusi Maimane called both Mayor de Lille and Cllr Smith to account for their actions at a meeting held last night. Following that meeting, Mr Maimane has placed Mayor de Lille and Cllr Smith on special leave from DA activities in the Cape Town Metro until such time as a DA Federal Executive investigation can be concluded."
Van Damme said Maimane had some time ago convened a special sub-committee of the federal executive to "investigate the political management and governance situation in the City of Cape Town."
The special sub-committee started its hearings on Tuesday. A report back on what action was needed was expected after.
Banned from caucus meetings
"Placing the Mayor and the Cllr on special leave during the investigation means that neither will be able to attend DA caucus meetings, interact with caucus members or others who may testify before the committee or attend party meetings," Van Damme said.
She said the leave did not affect their candidacy for provincial elected positions, nor their work in government.
"They should also not address the media on this issue until the conclusion of the investigation," Van Damme said.
"The statements being made in the media on allegations from both the Mayor and Alderman Smith are now a subject of investigation by both the panel mentioned above and the City itself. These statements have been inaccurate and are prejudicial to the investigation."