Home News NC High Court strikes Thembelihle councillors’ application off roll

NC High Court strikes Thembelihle councillors’ application off roll

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The mayor of Thembelihle Local Municipality, Leonard Mackenna, has requested the Northern Cape MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Bentley Vass, to appoint someone to stand in as Speaker, to convene a special council meeting to implement the MEC’s instructions.

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THE MAYOR of Thembelihle Local Municipality, Leonard Mackenna, has requested the Northern Cape MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), Bentley Vass, to appoint someone to stand in as Speaker, to convene a special council meeting to implement the MEC’s instructions.

This follows after the Northern Cape High Court on Monday struck off the roll an application by five Thembelihle councillors to obtain an urgent order to compel the council to convene before March 29.

The councillors argued that the Speaker, who refused to convene the council meeting, was disregarding his duties and functions and was interfering with the administration of the municipality.

Vass had on March 8 advised that the decision of Thembelihle municipal council to reinstate the senior manager of corporate services, Trevin Ralph Oliphant, and uplift the suspension of the chief financial officer (CFO), Radile Shuping, went against his advice and should be reversed.

On March 11, he instructed the council to table the disciplinary report pertaining to allegations of misconduct against Shuping.

Mackenna believed that no compelling reasons were provided by the court to justify why the matter was struck off the roll.

He advised Vass on March 25 that the failure of the council to deal with the CFO and the director of corporate services had the potential to destabilise the municipality, as the CFO had total access to the municipal bank account and finances.

The Speaker, Jamain Nkosana, opposed the court application.

The MEC filed a notice to abide by the court order, while neither the municipality nor Shuping opposed the order.

Shuping was placed on precautionary suspension with full benefits in June 2022 pending an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

The disciplinary report was never tabled before the council, while Shuping was reinstated on January 8.

Acting Northern Cape High Court Judge Almé Stanton, in her judgment, indicated that the applicants had not succeeded in proving the urgency of the matter.

She pointed out that the respondents were only afforded 24 hours to file their notice of intention to oppose the application and 26 hours to file answering affidavits.

“I am not persuaded that the applicants sufficiently justified the necessity to circumvent the ordinary time periods as set out in the uniform rules of court on an extremely urgent basis.”

She added that the disciplinary report was released in March 2023 and the mayor waited almost 10 months before he requested the MEC to intervene.

“The mayor failed to provide an explanation on whether he took any steps between January 18 and when the MEC eventually issued the directive on March 11. The mayor does not elucidate why he did not take any steps subsequent to the meeting on December 13, 2023.”

Coghsta had not responded to media enquiries by the time of publication.

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