Western Cape MEC Anton Bredell has emerged victorious in his departments legal battle with the Oudtshoorn municipal Speaker. Photo: COURTNEY AFRICA

Cape Town - Local Government MEC Anton Bredell has emerged victorious in his department’s legal battle with the Oudtshoorn municipal Speaker, who is seen as the main stumbling block in the DA’s attempts to take control of the town’s council.

At issue is a decision by the Speaker, John Stoffels, to bar two DA councillors from voting during a council meeting. The Western Cape High Court declared this decision illegal, prompting Stoffels to apply for leave to appeal. But, on Thursday, Judge Ashton Schippers refused his application.

The council is run by an ANC-led coalition, but thanks to a successful by-election the DA has the balance of councillors.

However, Stoffels has contrived to avoid a vote of no-confidence.

Oudtshoorn’s legal drama appears to be far from over.

Stoffels’s lawyer, Hardy Mills, on Thursday confirmed he had received instructions to proceed with a petition to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Two weeks ago, Judge Schippers dismissed Bredell’s request to exclude the Speaker from chairing a council meeting, which would have see the ANC lose power to the DA. But at the same time he also ruled that Stoffels’s actions when depriving two DA councillors of their voting rights were unlawful and in bad faith.

In recent months, the DA has failed five times in a row in its bid to regain control of the embattled municipality, despite winning a crucial by-election in August that gave the DA/Cope alliance a voting majority.

In a statement, Stoffels said the effect of his planned appeal to the Supreme Court would be to suspend Judge Schippers’s judgment “until the appeals process is exhausted, or until the court rules differently”.

Oudtshoorn municipal manager Ron Lottering said last night the municipality would issue a statement later on Friday.

Welcoming the judgment, Bredell said that by dismissing Stoffels’s leave for appeal the court had reinforced the principle that all Speakers should perform their responsibilities “impartially and in good faith or face the consequences”.

Bredell said his office would monitor the situation in Oudtshoorn to ensure that democracy triumphed.

And he urged the ANC to act against its councillors and demand that they respect the wishes of the town’s voters.

“If the Speaker takes any further legal action we will have no option but to request security of cost, as the speaker already has three cost orders made against him by the high court,” Bredell warned.

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Cape Argus