Public protector accuses Zille and De Lille ‘of contempt’
PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane announced that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille are in contempt of her office after the two leaders failed to attend an inspection in loco in Masiphumelele township yesterday.
Earlier this week, Zille and De Lille were involved in a row with the Public Protector’s office, after Mkhwebane subpoenaed the leaders to an inspection of Masiphumelele’s A, B, C, D and Z sections, which are situated on a wetland.
Zara Nicholson, De Lille’s spokeswoman, said the public protector had not followed the correct protocol in summoning the mayor.
“A subpoena must be served to someone in person. This did not happen. The city is always willing to co-operate with the public protector, but we want to follow proper procedure in order to protect the integrity of the Office of the Public Protector, as well as the work we do as the city.”
She said the mayor was willing to co-operate once the complaint had been submitted.
Nicholson said the city had not been informed by Mkhwebane that the mayor was in contempt. Zille’s spokesman, Michael Mpofu, could not be reached for comment.
Mkhwebane said both offices had been “ducking” her inspection and “gave us excuses”.
She said had Zille and De Lille been present, she would have asked them questions such as what they had been doing about the situation on the spot, with residents present. “I was just trying to find solutions with them,” Mkhwebane said. “Masiphumelele needs solutions very quickly.”
During the inspection, in which she had to change her stilettos for flat brown shoes to walk on the muddy terrain, Mkhwebane suggested that the wetland needed to be cordoned off so that no more occupations could take place.
On her second visit to Masiphumelele in as many months, Mkhwebane described the liv- ing conditions as “horrible”.
“No human should live under these conditions,” she said. Five families share an outside toilet in the area. Three of the dozen toilets have been out of use for months, with human excrement flowing over the toilet seats.
Chris Nissen, Human Rights Commission ( HRC) commissioner, said the Public Protector’s office and the commission would work together to compile a report on Masiphumelele.
Sithembele Mtshamba, a community activist, said Zille and De Lille’s absence yesterday spoke volumes, and reaffirmed what Masiphumelele residents had known: “They don’t want to deal with this issue.”
Ganief Hendricks, a Masiphumelele councillor, welcomed the public protector’s visit, and said: “I think she (the public protector) is taking the lead to ensure there is proper sanitation and holding the city to account.
“If she acts harshly, it will send out a strong message.”