Cape High Court suspends embattled Bitou councillor
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EMBATTLED former Bitou Mayor Peter Lobese has been dealt a fresh blow after a court upheld his suspension.
Lobese, an unlikely kingmaker in the deadlocked council, saw his fate determined by the courts more times than most councillor over the past three months.
In April, the Active United Front (AUF) leader was ousted through a motion of no confidence vote supported by both the ANC and DA. Two months later he was suspended following numerous counter court applications over who the legitimate leaders of the municipality were. However, in July his suspension was nullified by the Western Cape High Court after it was deemed unlawful.
That same month the Bitou Municipality approached the courts to sue MEC for Local Government Anton Bredell over his failure to suspend Lobese following the completion of a Section 106 investigation against him into allegations of maladministration.
And last Friday, acting judge Nolundi Nyati ordered that Lobese be suspended with immediate effect.
The order came after an agreement was reached between Bredell, Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and the Bitou Municipality.
“The first respondent's (Bredell) decision of June 10 to refuse the first applicant’s (Bitou Municipality) request to suspend the second respondent (Lobese) as councillor is reviewed and set aside,” read the order.
“The MEC’s decision is substituted with a decision suspending (Lobese) as councillor with immediate effect.”
Bitou’s acting mayor, Sandiso Gcabhayi has welcomed the court’s ruling.
“This means that he will be prohibited from taking part in any council related activity until the court is satisfied on good cause shown that his disqualification is no longer warranted,” he said.
“Lobese will no longer be entitled to a salary and must immediately return all the municipal assets in his possession.
“This follows a High Court application launched by the Speaker after the DA councillors once again entered into a coalition agreement with the AUF after negating on the agreement reached between the ANC and DA to work together to remove Lobese.”
The DA said due process must be followed to ensure that everyone was treated equally.
“While the DA is pleased to see the apparent movement in response to the Section 106 investigation currently under way, it remains concerned that this process is far from complete and that justice has thus far been applied selectively only to strengthen the undemocratic clinging to power by the illegitimate ANC regime in Bitou,”said councillor Dave Swart.