The news that JP Smith is set to be axed as the City’s safety chief has sparked an outcry and online petitions for him to keep his job.
The Daily Voice last week reported that Mayor Patricia de Lille is planning to fire Smith as the Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security because he of his groot bek.
The City has confirmed that major changes will be made to the mayco in January, but denied allegations from high-ranking sources within the City that Smith is being demoted because of his public criticism of SAPS and claims that his department is being “controlled”.
Several online petitions have been started by concerned neighbourhood watch members, including the Constantia Valley Watches Association – comprising eight southern suburbs, the Wynberg East Neighbourhood Watch and Tuscany Crime Watch.
Chairman of the Mitchells Plain community Police Forum Hanif Loonat has also expressed support for Smith.
On Facebook, a page called “Hands Off Alderman JP Smith” was started, garnering nearly 300 likes by last night.
Facebook user Lungile Jacobs appealed to DA leader Mmusi Maimane to intervene.
“Mr Maimane you can come here in the Cape Metro and see for yourself what this man had done for this metro during his term…plz stop what the mayor is doing.”
The Daily Voice contacted Smith yesterday who said he was “humbled” by the outpouring of public support.
“The level of faith people have in me is overwhelming. I make lots of mistakes and the fact that many are willing to overlook that says so much,” he says of his nine years on the job.
“This also, however, makes me very scared because I will have to work twice as hard to prove that I can reach their level of expectation in me.”
Asked whether he thought public opinion would influence De Lille, he said: “I’m sure the mayor would take things like this into consideration, she must probably be in shock herself as I am.”
Spokesperson for De Lille, Pierrinne Leukes, insists no decision about Smith’s future has been taken yet.
“As of 1 January 2017, all Mayoral Committee members will be receiving new portfolios in order to accommodate the new directorates in terms of the Organisational Development and Transformation Plan. Therefore the portfolios of all Mayoral Committee Members are being considered by the Mayor.
“No decisions have been made as yet and when they are, any changes will be communicated at the appropriate time,” Leukes said.