Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s personal legal team was on Friday due to write to the ANC to demand a public apology "for the lies they peddled outside the office of the public protector" on Thursday.

The ANC in Johannesburg handed a memorandum to the office of the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, asking her to investigate alleged mismanagement and maladministration in the city.

Mashaba said if the ANC did not hold a press conference within the next seven days to issue a public apology, he would institute legal action against them.

"In the process of peddling lies on the steps of the public protector’s office yesterday, the ANC has continued in their pattern of defaming the City of Johannesburg, and the names of both myself and my family. This will not be tolerated, and residents of our city can find comfort in the knowledge that we having nothing to hide. Our multiparty government operates openly and honestly with its residents. This is precisely why I will take the ANC to court over this matter, to demonstrate in an open court of law that their allegations are without foundation," Mashaba said.

He said the abuse of Chapter 9 institutions, including the office of the public protector, was a major concern.

"It is problematic that the ANC in Johannesburg is requesting the public protector to spend public money investigating matters … knowing [they] are false," Mashaba said.

The ANC asked that Mkhwebane investigate allegations of irregular appointments, the purging of employees, irregular salary increases, financial mismanagement, conflicts of interest and maladministration in the city.

The party claimed that irregular appointments had been made since the DA-led coalition took office, including that of metro police chief David Tembe.

The ANC also referred to a R500,000 salary increase of Mashaba’s chief of staff, Michael Beaumont, in 2016. This is despite Mashaba having said in council that this would be reversed. But, according to the ANC, this had not happened.

The ANC said Beaumont was also allocated the use of a state vehicle and VIP protection "which he was not entitled to".

Mashaba’s spokesman, Luyanda Mfeka, said on Thursday that Beaumont’s salary increase had been reversed but that a legal review had found that the regrading of his salary had been correct.

On the security services, he said Beaumont was attacked at gunpoint, after which security services were provided for two weeks in October 2017.

The ANC also alleged Mashaba had ensured that a company in which his wife had shares was awarded a multimillion-rand tender and that the mayor had solicited free services from the same company.

However, Mashaba said "the allegations levelled against the involvement of Lephatsi Financial Services, and my wife, being linked to interests in Grant Thornton, along with the claims that I have somehow directed work towards Grant Thornton are absurd".

He said Lephatsi held no interests whatsoever in Grant Thornton, which did some work for the city long before he was elected executive mayor. He said he had submitted, "in my disclosures, all interests that I hold and have done so openly with the integrity commissioner".

Mashaba added: "In the latter half of 2017, the ANC took the city to court and lost with costs. To date, these costs have not been paid. I would caution the ANC in Johannesburg, I am personally very willing to continue paying personally for my legal teams to keep taking the ANC to court in order to continue exposing their lies. Ultimately, they must decide if they are willing to continue paying the costs awarded by the courts for their dishonesty."

Gary Mockler, CEO of GTC Holdings also sought to clariy any connection between Grant Thornton and Lephatsi Financial Services.

Mockler said an independent financial advisory and wealth business by the name of GTC, formerly Grant Thornton Capital,  was established from within the Grant Thornton Johannesburg audit practice, itself part of Grant Thornton International. 

Effective 2012, Grant Thornton was obliged to reduce its shareholding in GTC and in 2015 was required to completely separate itself from GTC, or the asset management interests of any business.   

 Mockler said effective 2015, GTC and Grant Thornton have been two independent and separate businesses.

 He said Lephatsi Financial Services (LFS) was a shareholder in GTC (not a shareholder in Grant Thornton) from 2012 until December 2013.

"They were never part of, nor associated with Grant Thornton. Herman Mashaba’s interest in LFS was held by Lephatsi Investments," Mockler said.