THE Eden District council voted by an overwhelming majority to have DA mayor Wessie van der Westhuizen removed from his post during a special council meeting in George last night.
With the exception of COPE, all parties were in favour of Van der Westhuizen's removal, with 15 DA, two ACDP, five ANC and two Icosa councillors voting in favour.
Their recommendation will now be made to Western Cape Local Government MEC Anton Bredell, who will decide whether to ratify the decision.
The vote of no confidence stems from a report that the mayor misused municipal funds for travelling expenses.
Eden encompasses all the Garden Route municipalities.
ENS Forensics investigators found that Van der Westhuizen and councillor Gert Niehaus committed fraud, forgery and uttering in relation to accommodation expenses claimed.
The probe, which covered July 2011 to December 31 last year, came after the Eden District Municipality encountered "consistent breaches of policy and procedure" pertaining to travelling and accommodation claims submitted by Van der Westhuizen. COPE councillor John Maxim had argued that Van der Westhuizen had been the victim of a "witch-hunt", but was not seconded.
Van der Westhuizen now has 21 days to appeal against the recommendation.
"I will definitely be appealing against the recommendation," he said last night.
"... this was never going to be a fair hearing. At least now I will get my chance to have a fair hearing with the MEC. I will also protest that the deputy mayor [Lionel Esau] was the chairman of this committee, because that showed I was not going to get a fair hearing."
ANC Southern Cape spokesman Putco Mapitiza welcomed the decision to expel Van der Westhuizen.
"It's long overdue. It is evident the DA is more corrupt than it always projects itself ... We await the MEC to act swiftly in ensuring a clean and corrupt-free government," he said.
Earlier, in Plettenberg Bay, it was expected that COPE deputy mayor Adam van Rhyner would side with the ANC in a vote of no confidence in the Bitou Municipality's DA leadership.
However, Van Rhyner appeared only briefly to fetch his agenda before departing due to "urgent personal reasons", according to speaker Annelize Olivier.