FIRST ON EWN: Explosive allegations of corruption, cover-ups within City of CT
Cape Town city council convenes special closed meeting to discuss an independent report that implicates Cape Town Mayor Patrica de Lille in blatant cover-ups of corruption.
CAPE TOWN - An independent investigation commissioned by the Cape Town city council has blown the lid on rampant corruption cover-ups and contradictions by top City of Cape Town officials and politicians including, Mayor Patricia De Lille.
And it’s the city manager Achmat Ebrahim, who has also been implicated, that has pointed the finger of blame at De Lille, alleging that she pointedly refused to inform council of alleged wrongdoing by the city’s Transport Commissioner Melissa Whitehead, dating back to 2014.
Whitehead was implicated, in an internal investigation by the city’s forensic unit, of irregular expenditure of R72 million to Volvo and Scania, for bus chassis.
The matter is among several allegations of corruption in the city’s transport authority, investigated by Bowman Gilfillan last month, after explosive allegations were made about the cover-ups by the executive director in the mayor’s office, Craig Kesson.
The city council is meeting behind closed doors on Friday to consider at least three more instances of alleged misconduct by Whitehead.
In the report, seen by Eyewitness News, Ebrahim claims in his evidence to the investigating team, that De Lille and former executive director for corporate services, Gerhard Ras, blocked him from taking action against Whitehead and of reporting the matter to council.
Mayco member for Transport Brett Herron is also fingered as having been present at meetings where the city’s forensic report on the bus chassis payments was discussed.
Ebrahim is quoted in the Bowman Gilfillan report as saying: “The mayor expressed the firm position that the matter should not go to council. Ras advised her that the city manager has authority to finalise the matter with no further action.”
In documents Ebrahim submitted to the investigating team in December, he alleges that he asked Ras to provide him with the authority in writing, but that this never happened.
Still, Ebrahim wrote to the head of the city’s forensics unit in December 2015, saying he had decided not to take action against any staff member and regarded the matter as closed.
Ras was paid a R3.5 million golden handshake by the city council in August 2016, for the early termination of his 5-year contract to align with the city’s restructuring of its top management.
Ebrahim’s testimony to the investigating team contradicts his actions.
He told investigators in December that he believed the contents of the city’s forensic report into the bus chassis matter were “serious” and that the report should have been presented to council.
He also told Bowman Gilfillan that he informed De Lille of this opinion on more than one occasion.
According to the report: “He stated that he could, however, not undermine the executive mayor and had followed her instruction to close the investigation.”
The Bowman Gilfillan report recommends that disciplinary action should be taken against Whitehead and Ebrahim.
It also suggests that De Lille and other councillors should be investigated in a separate probe.
Says the investigating team: “The city manager’s version in his defence gives rise to a serious concern about the conduct of the executive mayor in relation to this allegation. That requires further investigation or inquiry as well.”
Bowman Gilfillan advises that the versions of De Lille and Ebrahim be tested through the same process, to determine who’s telling the truth.
If the recommendations of the report are adopted by council today, Ebrahim and Whitehead are both likely to face suspension while a disciplinary process is instituted.
Council could also decide to institute an inquiry into De Lille’s conduct.
Whitehead has also been singled out for misconduct for cronyism in the appointment of friends to work for the city, losses of R43 million in MyCiTi fares and interference in the tender process for the city’s Foreshore Freeway Project.