Embattled Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has confirmed that her party has laid a criminal complaint with the police over allegations that she had solicited a R5 million bribe from Johannesburg businessman Anthony Faul. In a statement on Wednesday, De Lille said her lawyers had an opportunity to respond to this new allegation but were unable to do so within the very short time permitted. She said the DA hastily went to the police with the allegation and thereafter went on a “concerted campaign of distributing the message to all and sundry that I am corrupt”.
A motion of no-confidence in De Lille is set to be debated on Thursday, 15 February. De Lille has questioned the timing of the DA’s complaint.
“My lawyers tell me that it is an abuse of the criminal justice system to lay a complaint against someone for an ulterior purpose, in the present instance my political demise. I do not buy Mr [James] Selfe’s explanation that he acted because the party is obliged to report the matter to the police,” she said.
“Comparable allegations have been made against Mr Bongi Madikizela regarding the sponsorship of his birthday party; against Premier Hellen Zille regarding payment of a trip to Singapore and the boosting of her son’s business, but none of these issues have been reported to the police. If this was seriously the reason then the ]arty should also have laid a criminal complaint against Mr Faul as he himself failed for more than five years to report the matter to police.”
De Lille was at pains to explain her connection with Faul, who held the rights to a product known as the AFO Fire Ball, an automatic fire extinguisher used to curb the spread of fires in informal settlements. According to her, Faul made a presentation to her and other city officials regarding the product in November 2012. His proposal was that he would raise the funding for the fire balls but needed a letter of support for the project from the City. She then signed the letter of intent dated 13 December 2012, which he drafted.
“The idea was that the City would obtain 250 000 Fire Balls for free as Faul would find the funding for the project. Faul later confirmed that the letter had been forwarded to the funders and that they would decide on the roll-out of the programme. However, by early January 2013 it transpired that Faul wanted the City to buy 1 000 Fire Balls from his company,” she stated.
De Lille said this made her “furious” as it seemed that the City “had been taken for a ride” and that Faul “never seriously intended to carry out the project.” The letter of endorsement was then withdrawn.
In an email dated 10 January 2013, (some two days after De Lille supposedly tried to solicit a bribe from him), Faul indicated that the withdrawal of the endorsement was a big surprise to him and that the decision had not been communicated.
“This is obviously entirely inconsistent with the story he now tells. Why did he not raise the bribery allegation there and then?”
His company later tried to revert to the idea of funding the fire balls for the informal settlements. However, at that stage she said she had lost confidence in the project and did not change her mind on the withdrawal of the letter of endorsement.
De Lille dismissed the allegation that she made him pay her R5 million as “utter hogwash”.
“How could I demand payment from someone who was to fund his own project? There was no tender and AFO was never to be paid by the City. The fact of the matter is that I terminated this project when it became clear that Mr Faul did not want to secure the funding for the fire balls as initially promised, but wanted the City to pay for them.” VOC