Fri, 17 Jan 2020

Following earlier glitches around the late submission of supplementary responding affidavits, the merits in the matter before the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on the ousting of former Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Mongameli Bobani and the acting city manager were presented on Friday afternoon.

The glitches were the result of an oversight by the applicant's legal representatives, which annoyed acting Judge Lisa Ntsepe.

Ntsepe lashed out at Bobani's lawyers for unsigned replying affidavits which were left in her office, just moments before the scheduled time for the hearing of their application.

The oversight would result in limited time for the opposing legal teams to consider the supplementary affidavits submitted.

After deliberations on the matter, Ntsepe granted the applicants further indulgence and stood the matter down until 13:30.

MORE: Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Bobani booted out through no-confidence motion

When the court resumed, advocate Miranda Veldsman tabled her arguments on why the matter of Bobani's ousting should receive urgent consideration by the court, and why the outcome of the motion of no confidence against Bobani and former acting city manager Nobuntu Mpongwana should be set aside.

Bobani was removed from his position on December 5. Although Mpongwana was not removed, but stepped down from her position moments before the unexpected axing of Bobani, she has joined him as the second applicant in the case.

In her heads of argument, Veldsman stated that the current acting manager, Noxolo Nqwazi - who is respondent four in the matter - had no authority to oppose the matter on behalf of the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.

"Procedurally, there should be a resolution by the municipality which authorises her to oppose the municipality on this matter," said Veldsman.

'When she resigned, it was under duress'

Veldsman also said that the new matter of a memorandum scripted and distributed by Nqwazi was tantamount to unfair labour practice and thus relevant in their request for an urgent intervention by the court.

"The memorandum directs the payroll not to pay salaries and acting allowances of the axed acting managers," said Veldsman.

The former acting senior managers were replaced immediately, following the removal of Bobani and Mpongwana.

The issue of the removal versus resignation of Mpongwana was deliberated upon, with Ntsepe stating that Mpongwana had resigned.

"When she resigned, it was under duress based on the humiliation and degradation suffered while she was addressing the council meeting on why the motion of no confidence could not be heard on December 5," argued Veldsman.

She also brought the court's attention to the unprocedural implementation of the motion of no confidence, which is the main matter before court.

"Further concerning is the fact that no notice was given for the motion of no confidence which led to the ousting of applicant one," she argued.

Taking the court into the intricacies of the procedures of making a request for a motion of no confidence, Veldsman said the motion should not have taken place.

"Processes were not properly followed when the application for the council meeting was made.

"If even one councillor has not received the notice for the meeting, then the motion cannot progress."

Judgment on December 19

She also said the agenda, which should have been sent out five days or more before the set date of the meeting, had not been sent out in time.

"The agenda was sent out on the 29th, which does not allow the stipulated five working days before the 5th December," said Veldsman.

Advocate Ben Ford, representing DA councillors Morne Steyn, Athol Trollip, said this was not necessary.

"The hurry scurry manner in which the matter is dealt with is unnecessary," said Ford.

READ MORE: Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality becoming 'paralysed gangster state' - DA EC leader

Advocate Graeme Richards also said there was no urgency to the matter and argued that all procedures had been followed correctly.

Both legal representatives said that no damage would be posed to the applicants if the matter was not deemed urgent and urged the court to strike the applications off the roll, with costs to the applicants.

Richards said there was no magic to being a mayor and that none of the applicants' rights had been infringed upon.

"If on a later stage the court finds that the procedures were not duly followed, then remedial processes could be followed," said Ford.

After all the deliberations had been presented before court, Ntsepe said the matter needed much consideration.

She postponed the matter to December 19, for judgment to be delivered.

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