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De Lille must answer to damning SMS allegations

Publish date: 18 May 2018
Issue Number: 4461
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: General

While there are many very serious ethical allegations against Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, the DA has one ‘simple’ SMS from De Lille which appears to be ‘a silver bullet’. The SMS, allegedly from De Lille, to Water and Sanitation Mayoral Committee member Xanthea Limberg – who sat on the City of Cape Town panel to select the city manager in September 2016 – read: ‘I want to keep Achmat, so please score him highest.’ The following evidence for the allegation now exists in the public domain: a screenshot of the SMS in question; an on-the-record confirmation from Xanthea Limberg that she received it; that it was sent on 28 September 2016; and that it was sent to Xanthea Limberg’s cellphone number. In an analysis on the BusinessLIVE site, the Institute of Race Relations’ Gareth van Onselen argues that if all of this is true, and De Lille sent the SMS in question, then she has no option but to resign. De Lille would have unequivocally violated the Municipal Structures Act which governs the selection of senior management at local government level. Van Onselen says the DA’s disciplinary hearing and all the court cases that have flowed from it, are now ‘irrelevant’. There is now ‘a very clear, well-evidenced, corroborated and incredibly serious allegation against her in the public domain’. As mayor and a publicly elected official, she owes the public an explanation. He adds her approach to this allegation – evading answering the question whether or not she sent the SMS – reeks of guilt. ‘If she is guilty, she is holding the people of Cape Town hostage to her own lack of conscience,’ he says. However, if she is innocent, and the SMS is not ‘genuine’, then she must make that case: a clear denial that she ever sent it and the instigation of legal action is needed. ‘Patricia de Lille knows whether she sent that SMS or not. If she did, and she refuses to accept responsibility for it and has no sound explanation as to why, that is disgraceful behaviour. She needs to answer this one simple question.’

Full analysis on the BusinessLIVE site