Patricia De Lille wins bid to be temporarily reinstated
15 May 2018
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.
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.
'Let's work together' – De Lille on DA declaring her return 'ceremonial'
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, who was on Tuesday temporarily restored to her position, says she will appeal to the DA to work together with her in the meantime after the party indicated that her return would be ceremonial.
The Western Cape High Court on Tuesday granted De Lille's urgent request for the temporary suspension of the DA's decision to cease her membership, pending a full review of the decision next Friday.
The DA released a statement immediately after stating that the court's decision was not in the best interests of the people of Cape Town, and that governance decisions would in any case be made by the DA caucus in the interim.
It was "inconceivable" to expect the party to work with a mayor who had lost the confidence of two thirds of her caucus on two occasions, the statement read.
Responding to the DA's statement, De Lille said she simply wanted to work together with the party for the next 10 days for the sake of the City.
"Yes I am aware. I am still making the appeal that for the sake of the people of Cape Town, let us work together," she told News24 on Tuesday.
"Let us rise above these differences that we have, just for the sake of the people of the City of Cape Town. We must put the City first."
She repeated that she was exhausted from what was a grueling bout with the party in court, and that she was still "worried about the impact of all of this on the people of Cape Town".
Nonetheless, she returned to her office on Tuesday afternoon and took up her position again with her staff.
She did not want to elaborate further on the day-to-day functioning of the City for the next 10 days.
Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson on Tuesday told News24 that De Lille would be a "lame duck" mayor, with the DA caucus calling the shots in the City.
"She can sit in the office and drink tea, and drive around in CA1 but she's just not going to be able to do anything other than ask for oversight, because the DA caucus is essentially going to call the shots," said Neilson.
DA federal council deputy chairperson Natasha Mazzone told News24 outside court that one of the instructions from the court was that De Lille subject herself to internal party discipline and procedures, while her membership is reinstated.
That now also applies to the party's decision regarding the governance of the City for the next 10 days, she said.
DA's approach 'unconstitutional'
The ANC in the Western Cape was critical of Mazzone's statement that the judgment was "not in the best interests of the City of Cape Town".
"Ms Mazzone must respect the decision of the court instead of accusing the judge of making a ruling which 'is not in the best interests' of ratepayers," said ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs.
"On the contrary, the DA's haste in attempting to remove Patricia de Lille as mayor via a shortcut, without following a proper disciplinary process, shows contempt for the rule of law which the DA so often claims to be the champion of."
He said the ANC maintained that the "desperate trial-and-error" approach to fire De Lille, "looking for loose and thumb-sucked reasons, misunderstood contexts, and underhanded, targeted and abusive party constitutional changes", would not hold constitutional muster.
He called on Nielson, Mazzone and DA leader Mmusi Maimane to respect the decision of the court.