City of Cape Town must explain paying both legal and bodyguard costs to defend fraud-accused councillor Grose
28 June 2021
When politicians are required to defend actions they have taken in the official execution of their duties they are entitled to have their costs paid by taxpayers or ratepayers.
This entitlement does not extend to defending alleged criminal activities, as the Constitutional Court recently ruled in respect of former President Jacob Zuma – in a matter brought by the DA.
On Friday, GOOD wrote to the Office of the Public Protector requesting it to stop the DA-led City of Cape Town paying the legal costs of defending Councillor Nora Grose, who is facing charges of fraud and money-laundering relating to City Covid food relief funds.
It has subsequently come to light that the City is not only picking up Grose’s legal tab, but also the costs of private bodyguards who were seen accompanying her to court.
The bodyguards are apparently provided by the so-called city’s “anti-land invasion” security services company, Red Ants.
The City’s policy on paying for the physical protection of Councillors is clear. It states, “the threat or attack must relate to a Council policy or matter. Clear evidence of a physical or verbal threat on a Councillor will entitle that Councillor to protection”.
The question is, why is the City paying bodyguards to protect Grose? If she has been threatened, does it have to do with her official duties as a councillor?
Why a security company specialising in violent evictions and demolitions of informal dwellings is providing bodyguard services to Grose adds further intrigue.
In October 2020, in response to an ANC councillor’s request for protection from the City, the Speaker of Council issued the following statement: “The City Council is not responsible for councillor safety and there is a ceiling to the assistance that Council can provide for all councillors in this regard. Such mechanisms usually include the installation of a panic button at the affected councillor’s home or office, upon the advice of the City’s VIP unit, following a threat assessment of the councillor/s in question.
“The onus remains on the councillor to report the matter to SAPS for investigation, and to improve security measures at their private homes by upgrading their security and/alarm systems and linking same to a private security company, as many other ordinary South African citizens are required to do, in order to safeguard their homes and families.”
The DA appears to believe that different rules should apply to the public picking up the tabs for Jacob Zuma’s and Nora Grose’s legal costs, and different rules should apply to councillors requesting bodyguards depending on the their party.
GOOD will write a supplementary letter to the Public Protector tomorrow requesting that the scope of the requested investigation into the Grose costs are broadened to include the rationale for ratepayers covering the costs of bodyguards.
Statement issued by Brett Herron, Secretary-General of the GOOD Party & Western Cape MPL, 28 June 2021