File photo: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA).

CAPE TOWN - GOOD party secretary-general Brett Herron on Tuesday accused the DA leadership of ignoring evidence that Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers was guilty of electricity theft before he was appointed to the position.

“DA leaders knew MEC was accused of electricity theft but promoted him nonetheless. Party put disciplinary process on hold awaiting police investigation, while municipality was quietly prevented from pursuing criminal complaints for electricity theft,” Herron said in a statement.

“As GOOD awaits Western Cape Premier Alan Winde's response to whistle-blowers' evidence that one of his newly appointed MECs, Tertius Simmers, was guilty of electricity theft while serving as a DA councillor in George, damning new evidence of a cover-up has emerged,” he added.

Simmers, however, slammed the accusation pointing out that the matter was fully investigated in 2016 and found to be "spurious".

"I did not tamper with the electric meter. I reported the tampering to the George Municipality. To this day we still do not know who paid for the fine. It is unsurprising that a few weeks after the Good Party lost in the by-election in George that this old matter is resurfacing. These allegations have been brought up in the past by the Good leader, Patricia de Lille, when she was still a Democratic Alliance member and now Mr Brett Herron is seeking to reopen it. There is clear malicious intent on the part of Mr Herron and I will therefore be seeking legal advice," Simmers told the African News Agency (ANA).

According to Herron, DA members have confirmed that prima facie evidence of theft was discovered and brought to the attention of the DA's provincial leadership. In 2018 the complaint was apparently referred by the provincial leadership to the DA's provincial disciplinary committee, but the committee did not act because it was awaiting the outcome of a South African Police Service (SAPS) investigation.

“Although the allegation that Simmers stole electricity was reported to the George police, the investigation appears to have ground to a halt after the DA George Council amended the Meter Tampering Policy so as to prevent officials from reporting electricity theft to SAPS for investigation,” Herron said, adding that instead of being held accountable, the former George councillor was first promoted to the provincial parliament as an MPL and then promoted again, to Premier Winde's much-heralded "government of higher integrity".

According to George Municipality's director of finance, electricity theft cases remain unresolved as, "it is the current practice not to report such matters to the SAPS" in terms of the new council Meter Tamper Policy. That new tamper policy was approved by councillors, including those accused of electricity theft.

Herron said that when GOOD submitted evidence to the premier two weeks ago, MEC Simmers disputed that it was he who had tampered with the meter at the house in which he lived in George.

African News Agency (ANA)