Patricia de Lille has been reinstated in her position as mayor after the DA axed her. Picture: Rodney Lentit
Cape Town - A “tired” Patricia de Lille wasted no time after an interim order by the Western Cape High Court restored her in the post of mayor, saying: “Back at work. For the sake of the people of Cape Town, for the sake of good governance, let us rise above our differences and put the people of #CapeTownFirst.”

She posted this on social media along with a picture of herself in her office at the Civic Centre soon after the court also suspended the DA’s termination of her party membership.

The mayoral committee members she had appointed would also stay in their positions until the court case is finalised next week. Deputy mayor Ian Neilson served in her position for only four days before yesterday’s court ruling.

Judge Patrick Gamble ruled that De Lille be reinstated as mayor pending the court review on May 25. The judge also said she must subject herself to the party’s disciplinary processes on misconduct charges.

De Lille has always maintained that she wants an opportunity to have the allegations against her tested and to clear her name.

She welcomed the ruling, telling journalists she was exhausted: “(This battle is) really tiring because I keep on worrying about the impact on the people of the City of Cape Town.”

De Lille was axed as mayor after DA federal executive council deputy chairperson Natasha Mazzone cited a radio interview on Radio 702 on April 26, during which De Lille on two occasions indicated that she intended to resign from the party as soon as she had cleared her name.

The DA used the radio interview as a hook to invoke a clause in its constitution which provided that party members automatically ceased to be members when publicly declaring their intention to resign.

De Lille’s contestation of this clause, which she says is in violation of the country’s constitution, will be reviewed on May 25.

Judge Gamble said it was possible that judges in next week’s court case might reserve judgment because of the “complexity of the constitutional and other issues raised”.

The judge added that De Lille and the DA “are not shy to litigate”.

“It is therefore not inconceivable that there may be further proceedings such as appeals beyond thedetermination by the review court,” Judge Gamble said.

The court said it was “genuinely concerned” about the harm De Lille’s loss of office had for Capetonians.

“In our view, this factor needs (and) warrants serious consideration in relation to the balance of convenience.”

Judge Gamble said it was necessary to grant the interim relief in favour of De Lille as there were concerns of the impact of instability on service delivery of people of Cape Town, including the draft budget as well as the water crisis.

“There are also important decisions which crop up on an almost daily basis around planning and the persistent problems around land invasions, to name just a few,” Judge Gamble said.

He said the court was of the view that De Lille had made a prima facie case on the manner in which the federal executive approached her utterances on radio on both a procedural and substantive level.

The judge said the court did not perceive harm to De Lille as “irreparable” in her personal capacity.

“Her loss of income, status and freedom of association with the political party of her choice are all capable of being addressed later if the reviewing court finds in her favour,” he said.

Reluctantly welcoming the court’s decision, Mazzone said: “The judgment of the Western Cape High Court is not in the best interests of the people of Cape Town.”

She had previously said they would respect and abide by the court’s decision.

“It is unfortunate that Ms De Lille continues to put her individual interests above those of the citizens of Cape Town by using legal technicalities to cling on to power,” said Mazzone.

The ANC in the province welcomed the court’s decision, saying it was “disturbed by and condemns the contempt which the DA has shown for the courts”.

Provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs said: “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.

“On the contrary, the DA’s haste in attempting to remove Patricia de Lille as mayor via a short cut, without following a proper disciplinary process, shows contempt for the rule of law, which the DA so often claims to be the champion of,” said Jacobs.

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Cape Times