The High Court in Cape Town on Friday, reserved judgment on an application by former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille for an interim order to get her job back, but interdicted the Electoral Commission of South Africa from filling her vacancy.
De Lille took on the Democratic Alliance (DA) and others in the high court on Friday in a bid to return to her post until a final determination is made by the same court on whether her dismissal from the party this week and her subsequent axing as mayor was unlawful or not.
De Lille was removed from office on Tuesday, after a long-standing battle with the party’s leadership and after a fractious relationship between her and members of the DA caucus in the City of Cape Town.
Friday dealt with “Part A” of De Lille’s application to return to her post for two weeks until “Part B” of her application is dealt with. During Part B, to be argued on May 25, De Lille is challenging the Constitutional validity of the clause used to remove her form office.
De Lille’s advocate, Dali Mpofu, insisted on Friday that she was still a DA member, Cape Town mayor and a councillor because the DA’s cessation of her membership was unlawful.
Sean Rosenberg, SC, for the DA, contested this assertion, saying all proper processes were followed in good faith when the decision was taken to axe her. He said in the current circumstances, an interim interdict was “inappropriate”.
“She doesn’t seek to maintain the status quo, she seeks to reverse or rewind the status quo,” said Rosenberg.
“Until such time as Part B of the [application] for relief is dealt with, the fact of the matter is the applicant is not a member of the DA, she is not a councillor and she is not the mayor.”
Rosenberg also tried to poke holes in Mpofu’s argument that the decision was based on a radio interview in which De Lille told a talk show host that she would resign from the DA once her name was cleared after several allegations of wrongdoing were made against her.
Mpofu quoted DA Federal Executive chairman James Selfe to make his argument.
“He [Selfe] says when she made her statement to Mr [Eusebius] McKaiser — she clearly did not realise it would lead to her losing her membership of the DA. If she did, she may not have made it,” said Mpofu.
“On what basis honestly can this court say in light of what Mr Selfe has said it was ever be shown that there was existence of intention to resign, if we accept intention to resign was the trigger of whole thing that has brought us here.”
Rosenberg argued that her declaration that she intended to resign was enough for a clause in the DA Constitution to kick in and for her to be removed as a result of this.
“We are not dealing with the subjective state of mind of the declarant [De Lille] in question. We are dealing with objectively a declaration…a statement made or published which may be construed as amounting to an intention to resign.”