Mayor Patricia de Lille. File Photo: African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Shortly before Patricia de Lille steps down as mayor, Cape Town councillors are expected to decide on Thursday whether to lay criminal charges against her.

This is the recommendation of a forensic report which states that criminal charges should be considered against her and several other officials, the Sowetan reported. 

The 2 000-page forensic report claims De Lille and former City manager Achmat Ebrahim broke the law when they failed to tell the council about irregular Volvo payments in 2015.

The report also fingers mayoral committee member for transport and urban development Brett Herron and suspended transport and urban development authority commissioner Melissa Whitehead for alleged misconduct in the tender process for electric buses.

The council sitting also comes a year after Craig Kesson‚ the executive director in De Lille’s office‚ filed an affidavit in which he made a series of allegations against the mayor. Many of his claims were probed during Bowman Gilfillan’s investigation, Business Day reported.

Kesson’s affidavit followed Sunday Times revelations about alleged wrongdoing in the Foreshore Freeway Project and the procurement of electric buses from Chinese bus manufacturing giant BYD.

Bowman Gilfillan’s report says De Lille and Ebrahim – who resigned in January after being told he faced disciplinary charges and suspension – failed to report a forensic investigation into irregular payments for Volvo bus chassis.

It recommends that the council consider “appropriate sanction” against De Lille after she interfered with Ebrahim’s duties to report the Volvo matter to councillors.

In doing so‚ it recommends that the council should consider section 119 of the Municipal Systems Act‚ which reads: “A councillor who attempts to influence the municipal manager… not to enforce an obligation in terms of this act‚ any other applicable legislation or any by-law or decision of the municipality‚ is guilty of an offence and on conviction liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.”

This is Bowman Gilfillan’s second report on Cape Town’s transport and urban development authority‚ which was previously called Transport for Cape Town. Its first report was commissioned by the council on November 21, 2017‚ after Kesson filed his affidavit on December 29.

When the city council considered the report on January 5, 2018‚ it ordered disciplinary action against Ebrahim and Whitehead‚ who were given seven days to provide reasons why they should not be suspended.

Ebrahim resigned on January 12 and left immediately‚ claiming his innocence‚ while Whitehead was suspended pending a disciplinary hearing. Her suspension remains in effect.

The council also accepted a recommendation that Bowman Gilfillan carry out a further investigation of an alleged cover-up of Whitehead’s purported wrongdoing by De Lille.

The law firm requested several extensions of its deadline for delivering the report and finally handed it to Speaker Dirk Smit on Monday, October 15.

All the individuals against whom allegations were made were given a chance to respond before the investigators came to their conclusions. The lengthy report reflects their responses.