Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith have both been placed on special leave from Democratic Alliance (DA) activities in the Cape Town Metro, the DA announced on Tuesday.
In a statement, the DA’s spokesperson on communications, Phumzile van Damme, said the decision was taken after DA Leader Mmusi Maimane called both De Lille and Smith at a meeting on Monday night to account for their actions over various allegations and counter-allegations made in the media involving them.
Van Damme said the special leave would be until such time as a DA Federal Executive investigation can be concluded.
“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.
“This leave does not affect their candidacy for provincial elected positions, nor does it affect their work in government. They should also not address the media on this issue until the conclusion of the investigation,” she said.
Van Damme said Maimane had convened a special sub-committee of the DA’s Federal Executive (FedEx) to investigate the political management and governance situation in the City of Cape Town, and to report back to the full FedEx as to what further action is required.
The DA’s parliamentary chief whip John Steenhuisen will chair the sub-committee, which is scheduled to begin its hearings today.
On Monday, De Lille said she had briefed her lawyers about “malicious and defamatory remarks” made by Smith to advise her on an appropriate course of action.
This after News24 reported that De Lille had in August clipped the wings of the city’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) by ordering that it be shut down, which led to Smith writing to, among others, Maimane, in an attempt to find out why the unit was being shut down.
Smith has reportedly said the targeting of the SIU could be linked to alleged irregular upgrades to De Lille’s Pinelands home, and that the restructuring within the city meant there was “reasonable suspicion” that, if corruption was detected, nothing would happen to the mayor.
De Lille has accused Smith of dragging her name through the mud “for the sake of sensationalism”.
“We all know that crime fighting is the responsibility of SAPS [SA Police Service] under national government. JP Smith wants to play cowboys and crooks by releasing all kinds of statements that the metro police is responsible for fighting crime,” she said in a statement.
De Lille has denied the allegations over the upgrades to her home. She said she had paid for the renovations herself and she was “prepared to make the proof of these payments known as part of the proper legal processes”.
Council speaker Dirk Smit on Sunday said the upgrades were above board and in line with provisions of national legislation.