City Of Cape Town Transport Head Melissa Whitehead Suspended

During a closed session, the council voted to place Whitehead on precautionary suspension pending an investigation into her conduct.
Aerial view of Cape Town, South Africa
Aerial view of Cape Town, South Africa
brazzo via Getty Images

A senior transport head in the City of Cape Town has been suspended as a result of the alleged covering up of irregularities in which embattled Mayor Patricia de Lille is implicated.

Council members met for a special sitting on Friday to discuss, among other things, allegations of fraud and tender irregularities levelled against Whitehead and De Lille, as well as the water crisis.

During a closed session, the council voted to place Whitehead on precautionary suspension pending an investigation into her conduct, News24 has learnt. De Lille remains in her job for now.

Brendan McDermid / Reuters

The embattled mayor began an opening address on Cape Town's proposed water levy at 12:00 on Friday, just after ANC councillors decided to walk out of the briefing.

"We are taking a principled decision," ANC councillor Xolani Sotashe said.

They returned after her speech finished.

About a week ago the Cape Town city council decided that Whitehead and City manager Achmat Ebrahim be charged.

During the confidential council meeting, an investigation into De Lille was ordered following allegations that she prevented Ebrahim from reporting allegations against Whitehead to the council.

Both Ebrahim and Whitehead were given until last Friday to submit reasons as to why they should not be suspended.

However, Ebrahim resigned last Friday.

Previously, during a special confidential council meeting, it was ordered that independent investigators probe allegations levelled against, among others, De Lille, Ebrahim and Whitehead.

Independent investigators from Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys had done so and compiled a report on what they had found.

This report, which the City of Cape Town has kept confidential, found she may be guilty of gross misconduct for allegedly advising Ebrahim that he need not report to the City council an allegation of misconduct against Whitehead.

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These allegations related to alleged irregularities involving payments to the companies Volvo and Scania for bus chassis.

The Bowman Gilfillan report said a forensic report presented prima facie evidence that "the Commissioner (Whitehead) was involved in irregular expenditure in relation to payments in the aggregate amount of R43 801 807.06 made to Volvo for 29 bus chassis."

It also found that payments totalling R29 584 368 made to Scania for 24 bus chassis during June 2014 were irregular.


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