KNYSNA NEWS - After numerous postponements and changes in judges, today could mark the third court appearance of former Knysna mayor Mark Willemse to contest his removal from the DA, and thus as Ward 9 Councillor and Mayor of Knysna in late September last year, if it is not posponed
He last appeared before acting judge Siegfreid Gustav Sievers SC in December last year, who postponed the case to today, 30 January.
An urgent High Court application for interdictory relief that would reverse his removal from the DA was filed by Willemse's counsel in October last year. Willemse, who was elected Mayor of Knysna by Council in mid-2018, maintains his removal was unlawful, and has survived two Motions of No Confidence brought against him by the DA since June 2018.
To oust him, Willemse says, the DA has relied on the so-called ''De Lille' clause'', which it recently added to its own federal constitution. Also known as the "recall-clause", it aims to circumvent the Municipal Systems Act and remove a mayor simply via a vote of no confidence approved by the local DA party caucus, instead of by a Motion of no Confidence adopted by the full council, as the Act requires.
According to the DA, Willemse violated the party's internal processes by "going against the caucus and leadership of the party" when he voted with his conscience against former mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies on a Motion of No Confidence in June 2018.
However, Willemse, together with Councillor Peter Meyers, was acquitted of this charge by the DA's federal legal commission process instituted by the DA itself.
The DA appeals panel found that there was in fact no caucus decision that all DA members vote for Bouw-Spies on the MONC against her that Meyers and Willemse could have failed to follow.
Since Willemse was removed from the DA, Knysna has been without an elected mayor or Councillor for Ward 9. ''I as mayor am no longer held accountable to voters who elected the councillors for the Knysna Municipality, rather, my tenure is made dependent on the wishes of the majority of the DA's local caucus and its federal executive," Willemse said of his removal.
Knysna Ratepayers' Association's Chris Gould feels the case has gone longer than it should've. "Although judges can be reluctant to decide cases with a political component, this case has dragged on far too long and the litigants are entitled to a decision,"Gould said. "The outcome will be very important for Knysna's future. We believe Mark Willemse has a very strong case."
Both the offices of Provincial DA spokesperson, Odette Cason, and the DA's MP in the National Assembly, Solly Malatsi said they had no further comment on the matter.
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