15 May 2018

South Africa: Patricia De Lille Wins Bid to Be Temporarily Reinstated

The Western Cape High Court has granted Patricia de Lille's urgent request for the temporary suspension of the Democratic Alliance's decision to terminate her membership.

De Lille and the DA were in court on Tuesday for judgment on De Lille's urgent application to be reinstated for the next two weeks, after the party terminated her membership, and thus her mayoral position, last Tuesday, May 8.

This is so that the court can review the merits of her removal in full on Friday, May 25.

Judges Patrick Gamble and Monde Samela on Tuesday handed down the judgment at 13:15.

Gamble listed the requirements for granting urgent interim relief. While dismissing some of De Lille's arguments as being urgent, the court found she had established a prima facie right regarding the procedural aspects in which she was removed.

The balance of convenience also favoured De Lille's temporary reinstatement, as the ongoing confusion in the City of Cape Town was not desirable, especially considering the upcoming budget vote and the ongoing water crisis.

It was therefore also not inconceivable that there could be further legal challenges in future, and that the reviewing court next week could reserve judgment too. All the while, the City's management would have to endure "chopping or changing" of executive positions.

"In our view, preservation of the status quo before the DA federal executive's determination to cease membership is the only available remedy," Gamble said.

"The order is as follows, the notice of the DA's cessation of the applicant's membership is suspended, the effect being that the applicant returns to office in the interim."

Gamble said that De Lille, now that she has been reinstated, must undertake to subject herself to party discipline in the interim.

He also said the reviewing court will ultimately be in the best position to rule on the issue of costs when it meets on May 25.

De Lille will now return to work pending the full court review of the merits of the DA's decision next Friday. Her mayoral committee will also be reinstated before the intention to cease her membership.

IEC interdicted

The Western Cape High Court reserved judgment in De Lille's urgent application on Friday following a six-hour hearing, keeping the City of Cape Town waiting for a few more days to find out who its mayor was, at least in the interim.

It did however, interdict the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) from filling De Lille's vacancy until the matter was concluded in court.

Advocate Dali Mpofu SC, who represents De Lille, argued in the main that De Lille's removal was unlawful and incorrectly applied.

The court should therefore grant the urgent relief requested until the merits can be fully debated when they come back next Friday, he said.

Opposing counsel for the DA, Sean Rosenberg SC, argued that De Lille's removal had already occurred, and that an "urgent interdict" against such a removal would therefore not make sense, as the "horse had bolted".

Instead, the parties should come back in two weeks to review the matter in full, while the City is able to function under Neilson, who "had the authority" to appoint a new mayoral committee.

DA spokesperson Natasha Mazzone on Friday promised Capetonians that service delivery would continue in the interim and as a party, they would respect the pending outcome.

De Lille had said that, in her view, she still considered herself the mayor legally, and her team will argue that again next week.

Source: News24

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