- Nearly R500 000 in legal fees has allegedly been spent to defend DA councillor Nora Grose.
- Grose is out on R10 000 bail after she was accused of misappropriating City of Cape Town funds.
- Her case is currently being handled by Hanekom Attorneys in association with Bailey Haynes.
The City of Cape Town has stuck to its decision to pay the legal fees for fraud-accused councillor Nora Grose who faces charges of misappropriating City funds.
City council speaker Felicity Purchase declined to elaborate on the cost of Grose’s legal fees.
“The City of Cape Town is unable to provide the total legal costs at this stage. Numerous postponements by the State, notwithstanding the lack of evidence against councillor Grose, have led to ongoing legal costs in this case,” she said.
Purchase added the attorney acting on behalf of Grose had at various court appearances requested the removal of the case from the court roll.
“Should councillor Grose be found innocent, the City will consider recovering the legal costs from the prosecution,” she said.
GOOD Party MP Brett Herron claimed the City had already spent R476 000 on her defence.
“The mayor must explain why the residents of the City must pay for Grose’s legal fees given that the charges essentially amount to this DA councillor [allegedly] defrauding the people of the City. The abuse of public funds is obscene and unjustifiable,” he said.
Herron added Purchase’s explanation that the law allowed the DA to provide legal support to its councillor was unacceptable.
“The test is whether it is ethical and common sense. The DA also has a hypocrisy problem. They challenged the abuse of public funds to pay for former president [Jacob] Zuma’s legal defence – and they won the court case.”
Purchase stressed councillors, as well as City employees who are granted legal representation, were informed the City might exercise a right of recourse for recovery of any expenditure incurred in terms of policy if a finding was made against them.
She said the city allows for the speaker to approve paying for legal representation for councillors “where legal proceedings have been instituted against the employee or councillor as a result of any act or omission by the employee or councillor in the exercise of his or her powers or the performance of his or her duties, or the employee or the councillor has been summoned to attend any inquest or inquiry arising from the exercise of his or her powers or the performance of his or her duties.”
Grose is currently out on R10 000 bail after the Atlantis Magistrate’s Court granted her bail in May last year.
At the time, the Hawks announced she had been charged alongside Reuben Swartz, who is the chairperson of NGO the South African Religious Civic Organisation, for allegedly fraudulently claiming R297 800 from the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) and using it for personal gain.
The Hawks initially said Grose was linked to the misappropriation of TERS funds but later corrected their statement, saying she was not involved.
Instead, she is accused of money laundering related to food parcels and for allegedly diverting money to a church.
Investigations revealed Swartz separately received up to R170 000 from the City’s humanitarian fund. The money was meant for food parcels in Atlantis but was allegedly channelled to the church, which has ties to Grose.
News24 previously reported the church implicated in the case had paid back some of the money to the City.
A document seen by News24 shows the Life Changers Church in Table View paid back R54 328.06 of the R171 778 in Covid-19 food relief funds it allegedly irregularly and indirectly received from the City.
When approached for comment about her legal woes, Grose referred queries to the speaker’s office.
Her case is ongoing in the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court.
ANC caucus leader Banele Majingo said the party wanted clarity from Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and city manager Lungelo Mbandazayo on Grose’s legal bill.
“This is a wasteful and fruitless expenditure of the public purse, and it is unethical to misuse ratepayers’ money like this. Furthermore, the ANC will approach the Office of Public Protector to investigate,” Majingo added.
“The judge made it clear that it is not in the public interest for the state to pay for the legal defence when it involves fraud and corruption involving public funds. Now, the DA is doing exactly what is claimed Zuma was not entitled to,” he said.
ACDP caucus member Marvin Christians said the party was alarmed by the bill the City was footing.
“We know in terms of the Municipal Systems Act [the City] can foot this bill. However, that is when an official acts in that capacity as a public office bearer, this act does not extend to defend alleged criminal activities.”
Also using the Zuma trial as an example, Christians said the DA was firm and ran to court to say the public should not foot his bill.
“With this case, it’s suddenly a whole different set of rules,” he added.