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AN Eastern Cape municipality has lost its bid to overturn a high court ruling that found it unlawfully fired its former mayor on a “point of exigency”.
The council of the Ingquza Hill Local Municipality, which includes the small towns of Lusikisiki and Flagstaff, removed Jongintaba Mdingi in January 2019 after he had left its sitting.
Mdingi was accused of failing to take action against former municipal manager Mluleki Fihlani after allegations of misconduct and/or maladministration emerged relating to the illegal demolishing of 38 houses in Lusikisiki by the municipality.
Unhappy with what had transpired at the council meeting that axed him and elected Bambezakhe Goya, who died in January, Mdingi successfully approached the Mthatha High Court in an urgent application to review and set aside the decision and declare it unlawful.
The municipality approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to challenge Judge Richard Brooks’s February 2019 ruling that no motion was placed before the council for Mdingi’s removal.
SCA Deputy President Xola Petse, alongside judges Mlungisi Zondi, Daniel Dlodlo, Aubrey Ledwaba and Nolwazi Mabindla-Boqwana dismissed Ingquza Hill’s appeal with costs this week.
According to the judgment, Mdingi was accused of failing to implement a council resolution directing him to write a letter to Fihlani concerning the municipality’s intention to suspend him.
The municipality claimed the notice to move a motion of no confidence in Mdingi was introduced as a point of exigency, which is an urgent point, at the tail end of the council meeting.
But Mdingi maintained that after making a presentation in relation to matters that were on the council agenda, he and other councillors left the meeting.
He also said he had not been served with any notice to remove him nor was any sent to other councillors.
Mdingi added that he had in fact had implemented the council decision he was accused of defying.
“The high court was correct in reaching the conclusion that it did. When all is said and done the order that it granted is unassailable,” the SCA found.
The judges said it was not necessary to enter into a debate on whether or not the grounds for removal were established or whether a court can interfere with a municipal council’s decision on the basis of irrationality.