Marais wins court battle to get his job back

Published Nov 21, 2001


There were scenes of jubilation outside the Cape High Court on Wednesday as the self-styled champion of the people, Peter Marais, was reinstated as mayor of Cape Town and Democratic Alliance member.

Marais succeeded in getting the high court to overturn the DA's national management committee decision to boot him out of the party and mayoral seat earlier this year.

Hours later Marais was in caucus.

Marais arrived at the high court about 15 minutes after the judgment, accompanied by spiritual adviser Theo Noble.

"I am a very happy man today," he said. "I am very glad for those who stood by me. I especially want to thank God for what's happened in my life. It was terrible, it was hard."

Marais gave no indication as to when he would be returning to office.

He said: "I am the mayor as I am standing here. I can go back any time."

A small band of supporters wearing New National Party T-shirts and buttons waved posters reading: "Thank God for a man like Peter Marais" and "Tony Leon, you are the real coconut".

Judge Deon van Zyl said in his judgment: "The ecision of the party's national management committee ... to the effect that Marais should relinquish his position as mayor of the unicity of Cape Town and that his membership ... be terminated with immediate effect, are set aside."

He said the Judge-President, Judge John Hlophe, concurred with the ruling.

The DA was ordered to pay costs.

Van Zyl said the national management committee had "not acted fairly or in good faith".

The head of the New NP's legal division, Andre Gaum, said: "This is a major blow to the DA. We said the action was unjust and the courts proved us right. This is a victory for fairness and justice."

City council speaker Danny de la Cruz said the reinstated mayor now faced a new set of challenges.

"The honourable thing for him to do will be to resign as a DA member. It is not plausible for him to continue and impossible to continue as mayor.

"He will have tough choices to make in the next few hours or days. It will test his integrity, honour and ethics."

James Selfe, chairperson of the DA's national management committee, said the judgment would have bizarre consequences.

"The court has reinstated Marais's membership of a party he has made it patently clear he no longer wishes to belong to.

It is problematic, too, when you have a DA mayor who has openly identified with a political opponent of the DA."

Selfe issued Marais with a new threat.

"One thing is certain. It is still our view that Marais is not a suitable person to be mayor ... and we will proceed against Marais in a procedurally correct way in the appropriate party structures."

Legal counsel for Marais were Jan Heunis SC and Ashton Schippers. Jeremy Gauntlett SC and Andrew Breitenbach appeared for the DA.

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