PICTURE: Nqobile Mbonambi Former city manager Mike Sutcliffe

Durban - Former municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe is turning up the heat in his R10.5 million defamation case against the eThekwini municipality. He has given it one last chance to put its plea before the court.

Sutcliffe’s attorney Roger Knowles confirmed this week that the city had missed the November 23 deadline to file a plea in the case.

He said a notice of bar had been served on the city and municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole on Monday and they now had until December 3 to file a plea or they would lose their right to do so.

If the city misses the new deadline then Knowles could apply for default judgment.

The lawsuit relates to comments made by Sithole about the Manase report on fraud and corruption in the municipality.

Sithole said the city had resolved to pursue criminal charges against Sutcliffe and would take legal action to recover R1.1m, which he claimed had been lost because of Sutcliffe’s failure to report fraud.

Sutcliffe said the comments were false and damaging to his reputation.

On Sunday, Sithole told The Mercury that the city was prepared to defend the case, it but wanted to settle the matter out of court.

Sutcliffe said he would consider other proposals from the city to settle the matter.

The city’s communications office did not respond to questions sent to it on Tuesday about why the city had failed to file its papers.

Sithole could not be reached on Tuesday. - The Mercury