The smear campaign against me - JP Smith

Cape Town mayco member says his family has also been getting threatening phone calls

EXCLUSIVE: I am the target of an extensive smear campaign - JP Smith

Cape Town - Cape Town mayoral committee member JP Smith believes he is the target of an extreme smear campaign which has involved individuals apparently registering his details with substance abuse facilities so it appears he needs help for drug, alcohol and gambling addictions.

He also believes his private residence in Hout Bay, which he co-owns and where his father stays with him, has been the target of espionage.

"I have received death threats in the past. I take the exposure of my security seriously," Smith told News24 on Thursday.

'Substantial smear campaign'

"There is a substantial smear campaign against me. It’s intensified over the past week. My attorneys are looking into it."

Smith felt those targeting him had invaded his privacy, somehow accessed confidential information about him and knew security details about his home, thereby making his parents vulnerable.

It was not yet clear who was behind the smear campaign.

His attorneys were trying to trace and identify the sources behind certain communications, which were made in Smith's name.

They were also trying to trace IP addresses.

Smith versus De Lille spat

Smith, the City of Cape Town's mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services, made headline news in September when it surfaced that Mayor Patricia de Lille had ordered the shutting down of the city's special investigations unit (SIU).

This move by De Lille unearthed shocking claims that some city councillors may have been involved in a murder and that building done at her home may not have been legal.

Smith had overseen the SIU.

Claims and rumours about De Lille were contained in a submission Smith made about De Lille's order to have the SIU shut down.

In the submission, Smith did not directly make accusations against De Lille, but said the claims and rumours had been heard from others.

A spat over the closure of the unit resulted in the Democratic Alliance (DA) in early October placing De Lille and Smith on special leave from party activities in the Cape metropole.

Smith's submission on the closure of the SIU and which detailed claims against De Lille was dated August 20.

On Thursday he told News24 that the smear campaign against him started on August 24.

'Someone is investigating me'

On this date he received a letter from the city council speaker saying that he had not declared his interest in the property he owned and in a company, in a declaration of interest.

A complaint about this had been submitted to the speaker.

However, Smith said he had pointed out that he had declared the property and the company in question had been deregistered a decade ago.

"I don't have a problem with the speaker doing his job. But someone went to draw [the deregistered company's] details and the deeds for the property," he said.

Details of the company and property, as well as his private home address and contact number, were on Smith's declaration of interest form, which he fears someone, who was not meant to, had accessed.

"I'm 100% sure the speaker didn't leak it.

"Someone is investigating me… This claim I'm investigating people is actually reversed."

Smith said this in reference to claims that he had used the SIU to investigate others.

"Friends and family started getting weird calls, asking what businesses they are involved in," he said, adding that this was further proof someone was investigating him.

Claims about Smith's private home

In the first week of October, apparent attempts to tarnish his image were again made.

Smith said it came to his attention that someone had falsely claimed that the property in Hout Bay which he co-owned, was actually property belonging to the city.

However, he said he had privately co-purchased the property in 2016, something which he could easily prove.

On October 11, the campaign escalated.

On that day he received two emails, which News24 has seen, from facilities which treat substance abuse and addiction.

These emails were in response to someone who apparently used Smith's details to submit a request for help on the facilities' websites.

Drug, alcohol, gambling addiction messages

Smith was able to access one of these messages which was submitted in his name.

News24 has seen this message.

It said: "I need help urgently my life is out of control I spend money on drugs, alcohol and am addicted to gambling. I am too embarrassed to tell anyone."

Smith said it was established it was sent from Johannesburg on October 11. He said on that day he had been in Cape Town.

"I barely drink, I don't do drugs and I hate gambling," he said.

Smith contacted the treatment facilities to tell them his identity had been used without his knowledge.

'Falsified' document and spying fears

On Monday it had then come to Smith's attention that allegations had been made that a security gate at his home was built on a public space.

"The security gate was built six years before I moved in… I stay in a security estate, the gate is at the bottom of the street," he said.

Smith had then seen a document which showed the property had been registered under his name in May 2012, when in fact this had happened in September 2016.

News24 has seen transfer papers reflecting the September date.

"They falsified a document, a deeds search," Smith said, referring to those who were apparently targeting him.

He believed those targeting him had been to his house.

"They've been spying on me at my home."

'Threatening' phone calls

Smith believed those targeting him had got his father's name off a gate at the house.

"They started prank calling. It became threatening. They also started putting in orders for things like sandwiches (using Smith's home details) and people would call saying they're owed money for it," he said.

"They also called my father by name. When he asked who is this calling, they replied: 'Your mom'." They were referring to his dead mother.

Smith would not speculate about who was behind the apparent campaign against him.

He hoped this is what his lawyers would identify.