Witness Susan Campbell defended herself with this comment on Knysna Mayor Eleonore Spies’ Facebook post about what happened in Parliament:
“Whereas I am seldom drawn into Facebook debates, after having been alerted by a number of concerned citizens that I am being accused of lying to Parliament, I have decided that the accusations cannot be left unanswered.
The SABC report incorrectly described me as a petitioner who asked for the town to be placed under administration. I am not a petitioner but a witness.
On Monday 22 May 2017 I received an invitation from Parliament and an airline ticket to attend the hearing on 24 May. Although it was short notice I made the necessary arrangements to attend. I do not need a mandate to respect an invitation from Parliament nor do I need a mandate from the local newspaper to testify about the fact that the municipality has withheld advertisements from the paper as “punishment” for critical reporting. I have evidence to substantiate my statement. Press freedom is a cornerstone of democracy and every citizen has the right to speak out when our democracy is being compromised.
The Office of the Public Protector sent two representatives to the hearing and I was very disappointed that the municipality had again snubbed Parliament as was the case in February 2016.
A committee member from the DA advised the Chairman that the municipality had requested a postponement, as they were busy with the annual budget and that all their requests had been ignored. She advised the Chair that the municipality would not be attending and expressed her dissatisfaction that the municipality had not been afforded the courtesy of a response to their various requests. This was later contradicted by the Mayor who advised Council that Parliament had in fact agreed to a postponement.
Later that day, I was disturbed to learn that the Mayor had decided to campaign in Beaufort West rather than represent the municipality at the hearing.
Despite the fact that the Mayor had elected not to attend the hearing and allegedly had not seen Mr Hampton’s latest submissions, she makes the statement that Mr Hampton and I “stated fiction as fact” at the hearing.
Now I am not Mr Hampton’s counsel, but I fail to understand how the Mayor can make the allegation that false statements were made if she is unaware of the content of the allegations and was not present to hear the statements.
My evidence to the committee was true and correct and I take the strongest exception to the very serious accusation that I lied to Parliament and I demand that the Mayor either apologise unconditionally or provide me with details of each and every false statement that I made to Parliament.
The media statement from the municipality contains a number of inaccuracies and false statements and I shall respond thereto in due course.”
– Susan Campbell