Port Elizabeth – The Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth has struck the urgent application of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and axed deputy mayor, Mongameli Bobani, to have the vote of no confidence set aside, from its roll.
The application, which lists 132 respondents, including the other 119 councillors of the municipality, as well as the speaker of the municipality, the city manager, and each political party that has representation on the council in Mandela Bay, was heard by Judge Dayalin Chetty, in front of a packed motion court on Tuesday.
Bobani had asked the court, as a matter of urgency, to prevent the municipality from implementing the decision to have him removed during the council meeting in August, and that he be reinstated as deputy mayor.
He also asked that his strategic manager, executive support in his office, identified as Ms NN Nkomana, be reinstated.
Following the interim relief sought, Bobani indicated that he would seek final relief in the form of having the motion of no confidence – brought by Patriotic Alliance councillor, Marlon Daniels – as well as the acceptance of the motion by speaker Jonathan Lawack and subsequent vote of no confidence, be declared as unconstitutional and unlawful.
The municipality opposed the application.
Chetty raised concerns that the founding affidavit submitted by Bobani had only been placed before him at 9am.
Chetty said he was not prepared to discuss the merits of the case, but was prepared to hear the arguments relating to urgency.
After a brief adjournment, Advocate Willie Vermeulen SC, for the UDM and Bobani, argued that the matter was urgent on the basis that the municipality was planning to fill the position of Deputy Mayor on the September 21, and that the matter was in the public interest.
Advocate Steven Budlender, representing the municipality and the speaker, Jonathan Lawack, argued that the matter was not urgent, as even if the position was filled, should the court find in favour of Bobani at a later stage, he would still be entitled to be reappointed.
UDM supporters outside the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth. (Derrick Spies, News24 Correspondent)
Budlender also said the reputational damage done would not be redressed by an interim court order.
Advocate Janice Bleazard, for the Democratic Alliance (DA), argued that the nature of the urgent application resulted in prejudice for her clients, as they did not have time to fully respond to the founding affidavits.
Chetty then ruled that the matter was not urgent, and struck the matter off the roll, with costs.
The application will now have to be refiled.
The court was packed ahead of the proceedings. A large group of UDM supporters had gathered outside since 8.30am, brandishing signs calling for Trollip to be dismissed and to allow Bobani to continue with his work as deputy mayor.
When court opened at 9am a large crowd rushed to get seats in the motion court, with journalists being forced to sit on the floor.
A large group of supporters, unable to find a space to sit, continued to gather outside the court, singing and chanting their support for Bobani.
Executive Mayor Athol Trollip has indicated that they stood by their position that the motion of no confidence was legitimate and would oppose the application.
“We believe that what we did was according to our rules,” he said.