NEWS & ANALYSIS

Tony Ehrenreich and the ANC's claims against me defamatory - JP Smith

Cape Town Mayco Member says he blew the whistle on gangster efforts to extort money from City contractors in Manenberg

Call to sue to the ANC for defamation

30 APRIL 2015

Yesterday, I wrote to the Speaker to request that the City of Cape Town appoint legal counsel in order to institute a defamation suit against the ANC, Tony Ehrenreich and Colin Arendse.

I am seeking legal recourse after it came to my attention that several defamatory statements were made against me this week in my professional capacity by the Western Cape branch of the ANC, Tony Ehrenreich and Colin Arendse who is employed by ANC, apparently at their head office. These statements included the call for my dismissal for ‘colluding with gangsters on City construction projects.’

The statements are false, baseless and downright malicious since I was the whistle-blower who first raised the issue after hearing about allegations that gangsters were trying to extort money from City contractors in Manenberg.

I went on record about allegations within days of being alerted to them and advised the Human Settlements Directorate accordingly, as it fell within their ambit. I also called for all information to be shared with the South African Police Service (SAPS). My emails to this effect are in the public domain.

The City welcomes the investigation by SAPS, which had been previously called for. Only SAPS have the legal power to investigate the matter to the extent required and only they are able to determine whether the contractor had engaged in criminal acts or if they, as claimed in their response to the City, are victims of extortion and intimidation by the gangsters. 

Any investigation would allow an opportunity to place the correct information on record so as to end the lies being spread by the ANC who appear to be involved in or are influencing the investigation.

For the record, SAPS were appraised of the problems by the contractor but do not appear to have investigated the matter or alert the City to the possible criminal activity. If they had, the City would have dealt accordingly with the contractor. The contractors have offered documentation which shows their communication with SAPS.

When we became aware of the allegations, the Human Settlements directorate of the City took immediate remedial steps to ensure that the contractors comply with the law and that all matters were placed on record, including demanding that they use only PSiRA accredited security companies, which they subsequently did. 

We have now agreed to have additional City Law Enforcement officers to guard these sites as they are doing at several other housing development sites around the City. This will lead to a greater project cost but is likely the only way to ensure that the projects are not disrupted by self-serving criminals.

Contrary to claims by the opposition, no DA councillors or party members are implicated. It is not “common cause” as suggested. In fact, the DA-controlled City Council has been trying to ensure that housing delivery happens without disruption. 

The SAPS detectives who the City met last week confirmed that the investigation into alleged corruption is underway and that they would need to determine whether the contractor had paid money to any gang members knowingly and willingly.  Either way, this does not implicate the City or DA as being in any contravention of the law.

The real failure here is that the police failed to investigate the issue when it was first brought to their attention in Manenberg last year.  There has even been a suggestion that SAPS knew about this two years ago.  This has left the City in the impossible situation of attempting to take remedial action without evidence which only a criminal investigation by SAPS can obtain.

Statement issued by Alderman JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, City of Cape Town, April 30 2015