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Bo-Kaap residents demand answers

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Following months of political wrangling with the DA, Patricia de Lille has resigned as Cape Town mayor and as a member of the party. She has also filed papers in the Western Cape High Court today applying for the two reports by law firm Bowmans to be reviewed and set aside. In one report into corruption and maladministration in the city, she is reportedly found to be complicit in irregularities in alleged maladministration. This includes preventing the declaration of Bo-Kaap as a heritage area, while in the second, she is absolved. Bowmans recommended to the Cape Town city council that this matter be further investigated.

The City council adopted the report behind closed doors during Thursday’s council meeting, which saw De Lille rail against her critics and dismissing the allegations against her “as racist, bully attacks”. Five of her supporters resign as DA councillors, including chief whip Shaun August.

In a report, Bowmans states that it was informed that the city had a statutory obligation to give protection to identified and graded heritage places, including Bo-Kaap.

In December 2015, applications commenced for Heritage Protection Overlay Zones (HPOZ) for Bo-Kaap and Pinelands.

De Lille said the heritage work couldn’t proceed.

“Notwithstanding full Council delegation and sub-delegated authority, the EM [executive mayor, De Lille] instructed that they (Environmental Management), cannot proceed and must obtain her approval prior to conducting the heritage work,” reads the Bowmans report.

The Environmental Management Department’s executive director instructed that a report be drafted for De Lille’s attention seeking permission to proceed with the top five priority HPOZs.

In June and July Bo-Kaap residents protested gentrification and developments insensitive to the neighbourhood’s heritage and culture.

“We couldn’t understand why the process was taking so long. We suspected foul play, however, we have no evidence to prove our suspicion,” said Bo Kaap Civic and Residents Association chairperson Osman Shabodien.

Shabodien said they would take the necessary action after studying the Bowmans report.

“We are angry, but we can’t do anything until we fully understand what the report means. We will take the process further and take the City and De Lille to court, should the need arise.”

Council’s adoption of the report means De Lille, Mayoral Committee member Brett Herron and some officials would be subject to disciplinary investigations by the City or criminal investigations by the police. De Lille and Herron have criticised the report and pleaded their innocence.

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