An SMS allegedly sent by axed Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille to Xanthea Limberg – once a close confidante, but who has crossed the floor to the ruling Democratic Alliance faction – has been unearthed. De Lille says it has been constructed under the pillow of Limberg and another mayoral committee member JP Smith.
All the City’s dirty linen was exposed on the front page of The Cape Times on Monday. The newspaper – which makes no bones about its public support for the African National Congress – reported that JP Smith and Limberg owned a house together.
It is public knowledge in the corridors of the City of Cape Town that Limberg and Smith – who has driven the effort to oust De Lille as mayor – are in a relationship, and have been together for some time. It just hasn’t been reported to the public, as it is not pertinent to their work as mayoral committee members.
But De Lille has exposed the relationship in public. The headline screamed: “De Lille: SMS ‘under pillowcase’.” The newspaper reported that the axed mayor said the claims that she attempted to influence the decision to re-appoint Achmat Ebrahim as City Manager – in early 2017 – emanated from “Xanthea (Limberg) and (JP) Smith under the pillowcase”.
The newspaper said the SMS was used as evidence in the report compiled by the DA’s chief whip in Parliament, John Steenhuisen.
De Lille says the SMS to Limberg does not exist. She never sent it to her. De Lille claimed that Limberg – a one-time member of the Independent Democrats which De Lille led – had manufactured it. The Cape Times quoted the axed mayor as saying: “She is instructed by her handlers. All of a sudden… now it is appearing (the SMS).”
De Lille said that Limberg should explain why she had kept quiet about the SMS for the past five momths, even though De Lille’s lawyers had asked for proof of the SMS.
Limberg said she did not keep quiet about the SMS. “I raised the issue of the SMS at the time with other colleagues, and this did not include JP Smith.”
“I handed over the SMS to the party (early in 2017) and this would have been presented to De Lille during the party disciplinary process,” she said.
The newspaper asked JP Smith and Limberg about their relationship. Smith said this was “none of your business.” That was carried in a headline of the page 1 story. Limberg acknowledged that she shared a property – in Hout Bay – with Smith: “No matter who I own an investment property with, it doesn’t somehow make De Lille’s action correct.”
Meanwhile Natasha Mazzone, the deputy DA federal executive chairperson, said comments made by De Lille about Smith and Limberg “are both sexist and racist”. To say the text message she sent to Limberg to influence the appointment of the City Manager – who has since resigned – emanated from “Xanthea and Smith under the pillowcase… is disgusting, even for her”.
“These comments are in line with … De Lille’s modus operandi of bullying and trying to discredit anyone who will expose her for what she has done. The reality is that Ms De Lille sent Ms Limberg a text message saying: I want to keep Achmat so score him highest.” Mazzone insisted that this text message was real and Limberg submitted it as evidence against De Lille “for trying to interfere with the appointment of a city manager”.
Mazzone said this kind of behaviour was deplorable. “It is inconsistent with a DA government and a DA mayor. The party holds all its member of the executive to the highest standard. As such, this text message alone should have been enough for De Lille to resign, as she clearly was not fit to be a Mayor. To then slander Limberg and bring her personal life into what is essentially a criminal matter, is the worst kind of sexism and racism.”
Mazzone said De Lille should submit her cell phone for forensic analysis. “If she did not send the message, then she should have no problem confirming this by allowing the analysis.” Instead De Lille had resorted to ad hominem attacks “which defy all her claims to the rights she has fought for in this country”.
Acting Cape Town Mayor Ian Neilson is now expected to announce his interim mayoral committee – after the court rules on De Lille’s attempt to fight the DA’s rescinding of her membership. The court is expected to rule at lunch time on Tuesday.
Limberg is widely expected to be reappointed to her post on the mayoral committee. All mayoral committee members have fallen away – following the DA declaring that De Lille was no longer a DA member, and was no longer mayor.