My answer to Anthony Faul's allegations - Patricia de Lille

Cape Town mayor says intention was never that the city would pay for the "AFO Fire Balls"



I have now been informed by the SAPS that a criminal complaint has been laid against me by the federal leadership of the Democratic Alliance pertaining to an alleged solicitation of a bribe from a Mr Anthony Faul in January 2013.

My lawyers and I were afforded an opportunity to respond to this new allegation by the Party but given that emails had to be collected checked we were unable to do so within the very short time permitted.

The DA then rushed off to the police with the allegation and immediately thereafter went on a concerted campaign of distributing the message to all and sundry that I am corrupt. With the motion of no-confidence against me to be debated next week Thursday, 15 February 2018, the timing of this latest effort to discredit me is most unfortunate.

My lawyers tell me that it is an abuse of the criminal justice system to lay a complaint against someone for an ulterior purpose, in the present instance my political demise. I do not buy Mr Selfe’s explanation that he acted because the Party is obliged to report the matter to the police.

Comparable allegations have been made against Mr Bongi Madikizela regarding the sponsorship of his birthday party; against Premier Hellen Zille regarding payment of a trip to Singapore and the boosting of her son’s business, but none of these issues have been reported to the police. If this was seriously the reason then the Party should also have laid a criminal complaint against Mr Faul as he himself failed for more than five years to report the matter to police.

No decision has been taken to charge me. I have nevertheless decided to explain what happened in respect of Mr Faul and the company Auto Fire Off South Africa (Pty) Ltd (AFO). The facts are as follows:

- AFO held the rights to a product known as the AFO Fire Ball, which is an automatic fire extinguisher which Mr Faul claimed was ideally suited to curb the spread of fires in informal settlements.

- On 14 November 2012, Mr Faul made a presentation to me and others regarding the product, including Alderman Smith JP and other Disaster Risk Management officials. His proposal was that he would raise the funding for the fire balls but he needed a letter of support / intent for the project from the City.

- It is in this context that I signed the letter of intent dated 13 December 2012, which he drafted. It will be noted that the idea was that the City would obtain 250 000 Fire Balls for free as Mr Faul would find the funding for the project.

- Mr Faul later confirmed that the letter had been forwarded to the funders and that they would decide on the roll-out of the programme.

- However, by early January 2013 it transpired that Mr Faul wanted the City to buy 1 000 Fire Balls from his company.

- This made me furious as it seemed that the City had been taken for a ride and that Mr Faul never seriously intended to carry out the project on the basis initially proposed. The letter of endorsement was then withdrawn. It will be noted that others, such as Mr Paul Boughey, were kept abreast of the developments.

- In an email dated 10 January 2013 [some two days after I supposedly tried to solicit a bribe from him] Mr Faul indicated in an email that the withdrawal of the endorsement “obviously comes as a big surprise [to him]” and that “Nobody had communicated anything to us”. This is obviously entirely inconsistent with the story he now tells. Why did he not raise the bribery allegation there and then?

- His company later tried to revert to the idea of funding the fire balls for the informal settlements. However, at that stage I had lost complete confidence in the project and did not change my mind on the withdrawal of the letter of endorsement.

It is a pity that this well-intentioned project was then jettisoned. But needless to say, the allegation he makes that I tried to make him pay me R5 million is utter hogwash. How could I demand payment from someone who was to fund his own project?

There was no tender and AFO was never to be paid by the City. The fact of the matter is that I terminated this project when it became clear that Mr Faul did not want to secure the funding for the fire balls as initially promised, but wanted the City to pay for them.

Statement issued by Patricia de Lille, 7 February 2018