Cape Town’s City manager, as well as two other senior officials are facing suspension over corruption allegations. They have seven days to provide reasons as to why they should not be placed on “precautionary suspension”, following the City Council’s unanimous motion to investigate them.
Officials under fire are City Managers Achmat Ebrahim, Transport Development Authority Commissioner Melissa Whitehead and Mayor Patricia de Lille’s executive director, Craig Kesson. They have been asked to make their submissions by next week Tuesday, according to the motion.
Cape Town Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson brought the motion to the urgent council meeting on Tuesday morning.
The motion states that due to “serious allegations” against officials, the council’s Audit and Performance Audit Committee must appoint an independent investigator. The investigator should conclude their research within 30 days. De Lille, Ebrahim and the committee will then have seven days to make their independent submissions to the City Council.
Ebrahim was also directed to hand over all relevant documents to the committee.
Whitehead has been at the forefront of a series of allegations, including having employed close friends in senior positions, irregularly benefitting from a Chinese electrical bus tender, and having favoured a bid in the City’s delayed Foreshore project.
Sources within the DA caucus said Ebrahim and De Lille had shut down a forensic investigation into Whitehead.
They alleged Ebrahim had instructed a forensic official to discontinue the investigation, under instruction of De Lille. The official is said to have been removed from the City’s administration.
Democratic Alliance Federal Council chairperson, James Selfe “welcomed the decision” to begin an independent investigation yesterday.
“We have every confidence that the independent investigator will test the allegations appropriately and that, if evidence of wrongdoing is found, the Council will deal decisively with the individuals concerned,” Selfe said.
The DA has not yet ruled on alleged misbehaviour by De Lille relating to security upgrades at her Pinelands home.
Both De Lille and Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith were recently suspended from DA activities, including attending party caucus meeting.
January saw De Lille resign as Western Cape DA leader to focus on her mayoral duties.