Zille moves to discipline DA councillors over deed of settlement
settlement”, each party will pay its own costs of the estimated R4.5 million bill, despite costs being awarded to the municipality by the Western Cape High Court and later by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
The deed of settlement will, in effect, see taxpayers pay about R2m for Nel’s legal bill against the municipality.
Municipal insiders said 11 DA councillors and a Cope councillor conspired to push through the settlement in an attempt to avoid Nel having to pay the legal costs himself. This came shortly after the DA’s May 31 take-over bid in the local municipality.
Insiders claimed further that the settlement drafted by well-known Oudtshoorn businessman and attorney Nic Barrow on behalf of Nel and DA councillor Ben van Wyk was made to resemble an official Constitutional Court document, but lacked an official Constitutional Court case number. It indicated that Nel would withdraw the application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court, although no such case existed.
An outraged Zille denied that the DA had authorised any settlement instruction.
“The DA would never accept or condone, let alone implement any so-called agreement which requires the ratepayers to pay a private legal bill.”
The DA leader said she asked one of the councillors involved to explain the situation, and had subsequently received documentation.
“I immediately instructed that disciplinary procedures be implemented against the DA councillors allegedly involved. I have asked Local Government MEC Anton Bredell whether criminal charges should be brought,” she added.
Zille also wants action taken against Barrow: “It is clear that Nic Barrow, a local businessman, was central to these developments, and should not escape the consequences.”
Approached for comment, Bredell said he was investigating lodging criminal charges, and would make a decision on the way forward by early next week.
Oudtshoorn mayor Gordon April called the “settlement” a “figment of some fraught fantasy”. He accused Barrow, the DA councillors and the Cope councillor of conspiring to dump the legal costs on unsuspecting ratepayers, and has subsequently laid criminal charges against all involved.
Nel could not be reached for comment, but DA spokesman Chris MacPherson said the incident was being blown out of proportion because there was no federal DA approval for such an agreement.
Barrow called the allegations false and baseless, and said he had issued summons against the mayor and the media liaison officer for the municipality, for defamation. He is suing each for R300 000.
Concerning the alleged criminal cases against his client, Barrow said he was not aware of any such cases.