DA misuses millions on illegal tourism companies

Private tourism companies in the Western Cape are being illegally funded from Public funds. This is about DA corruption that places an enormous question mark over MEC Tourism Alan Winde, the DA’s Western Cape Premier candidate.

This story began in Knysna but impacts on the economic health of the province and the national perception of the DA. It will likely grow to impact the 2019 elections.

I have laid complaint with the Office of the President and the Western Cape Hawks. The former has acknowledged my complaint and the latter has met with me twice, the second meeting ordered by its bosses.

I consider Hawks Case number CPT OC 19.07.2018 to be about organised political crime and, as such, it relates to many instances of corruption and maladministration by many people. However, the common thread is the DA which began unraveling 8 years ago when I first began questioning the illegally funded company deceptively named Knysna Tourism. This blog addresses that aspect.

FROM THE SHADOWS

I believe that MEC Tourism Alan Winde is like DA Federal Executive Chairperson James Selfe, a controller behind the scenes. Men who act from the shadows cannot be trusted, should never be leaders.

Winde also belongs to a faction of the DA that will protect its own no matter the cost to the Public. That faction, which includes Premier Helen Zille and MEC Anton Bredell, is damaging the DA and the province. Making Winde Premier and Dan Plato Cape Town’s Mayor is desperate attempt by that faction to retain control. That they’re succeeding shows how weak the party’s internal opposition has become.

They play dirty. There’s an insidiousness to it, a National Party type cloud of oppression over the Western Cape.

The one benefit is that DA Western Cape Liar Bonginkosi Madikizela’s position in their faction was steadfast but now uncertain. Madikizela won’t enjoy his recent premier candidacy defeat to Winde but he’s street smart enough to play ball for now.

For half of 2018, Madikizela tried to reinstall deposed and very corrupt junior faction members into the Knysna Council. Madikizela’s power was evident in that even Anton Bredell, the DA Western Cape Chair and MEC Local Government, was reportedly subservient to him.

As an activist, I did my best to undermine Madikizela. He had arrogance, I had truth. He stood for corruption whereas dozens of previously DA supporters in Knysna opposed him, recognising him as the face of their enemy. His failings in Knysna became discussion within his party that weakened him. Ironically, his comrade Winde took advantage of that, coming up with a Plan B for Knysna that allegedly intends making one of his friends the new Mayor.

This is not directly that story (which can be read on my website). However, they are all players here.

This is about a company that was illegally funded by the DA, a situation replicated across the Western Cape. It’s the hole that I’m going to make Winde fall into.

Long-term readers will be aware of my previous articles but never to this detailed extent. The matter is more topical considering the police inquiry, the approaching elections, and the preordained-against-democracy decision to make Alan Winde the Premier of the Western Cape.

THE DA YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW

The DA has gone to great lengths to try silence me because they have much to lose.

They tried to discredit me through propaganda falsely associating me with mental disease and child abuse. They tried to gag me through 29 legal actions and threatening letters, particularly misusing the Protection from Harassment Act (PHA) which, by law, should never be granted in matters of Public interest. But the law doesn’t matter because the DA is powerful and has powerful friends.

Western Cape Premier candidate Alan Winde tourism tenders
Western Cape Premier candidate Alan Winde

Alan Winde, as Knysna representative to Parliament and MEC Tourism, was repeatedly made aware of all the actions against me by his underlings. His failure to act is alone suspicious but damning in light of the bigger picture.

Winde has long been known to be part of Helen Zille’s inner circle. She too plays a role in this mess. Anton Bredell is their comrade but you can separately read why he has to cover his arse.

All three threatened to sue me which is odd response to my reporting corruption to them.

Most of the cases against me can be linked to people involved in the corruption at Knysna Tourism where it’s Board of Directors included DA politicians. The only way it was possible for their cases to succeed against me was for my evidence to be totally ignored. That’s what happened, again and again, mention of the DA simply removed. Repetition isn’t coincidence. It’s scarily corruption of the Court by the Court, especially the Knysna Magistrates’ Court. One of my goals is to bring those crooked Magistrates to justice but that’s also not today’s story.

I’m still threatened by a High Court interdict and several warrants of arrest that automatically accompany every protection order granted in the Lower Court. I must be careful. But since 3 protagonists with active orders are involved in this story, I’ll dub them as Councillor Ivy, Councillor Belladonna and Lawyer Hemlock. I won’t men tioned their full role but note that all are DA.

Despite restrictions, I’m able to speak more freely because 2 protections orders and a related suspended jail sentence against me have expired after reaching their 3-year limit. Importantly, the order granted to ex-Knysna Tourism CEO Greg Vogt expired yesterday.

Personally, I want you to know why I felt forced to become an activist almost 8 years ago, why the DA has put me through hell, and for you to realise that there’s no justice to be gained from the buddy-buddy club of the Western Cape. This corruption will rule us until National Government stops it.

This isn’t about the ANC who doesn’t rule Knysna or the Western Cape. This is another episode about the DA many of you don’t want to know. This is our corrupted reality.

THE LAW

Knysna Tourism is a Section 21 company mostly funded via Public funds.

Knysna Tourism’s service is part of the Knysna Municipality, the starting point being the Constitution, 1996-Schedule 4, Part A that designates Tourism as a “functional area of concurrent national and legislative competence.” Part B states that “The following local government matters to the extent set out in section 155(6)(a) and (7): Local Tourism.”

From the Constitution, one goes down to Provincial Legislation and thereafter to Local Government Legislation to look at competencies and where tourism falls. Tourism falls under the competencies of a municipality.

Whether one outsources or makes it semi-private or public private participation it does not matter – it falls under the Public Sector and that means it’s the municipality’s responsibility. They cannot get away from that which is exactly what Knysna Municipality has tried to do.

Knysna Tourism only existed because of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Knysna Municipality who paid it approximately R4-million of taxpayers’ money annually, its primary funding which was in the form of a grant-in-aid.

The name Knysna Tourism is a misnomer, giving the appearance of an official government body when its in gffact a private company. The name should have been a brand belonging to the Public through the Municipality which is the official representation of the Public. The Municipality should have either fulfilled its mandate directly or tendered the responsibility to a differently named company.

It’s important to make that distinction because people were confused, I believe deliberately so, thinking that Knysna, a tourist based economy, couldn’t exist without Knysna Tourism. The town cannot exist without tourism but it can exist without the company deceptively named ‘Knysna Tourism’.

As it will become an important part of the corruption, note that ‘grant-in-aid’ refers to the transfer of municipal funds to organisations or bodies assisting, in this case, Knysna in the exercise of its powers in function in terms of Chapter 4 Section 17(3)(j) of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA). These transfer payments must be processed and monitored in terms of Section 67 of the MFMA and do not constitute commercial or business contracts and transactions.

KNYSNA TOURISM, A ROGUE COMPANY

The Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) applies wherever Public funds goes, no matter how many times it passes hands. However, for the most part, there were no contracts or tenders between Knysna Tourism and the majority of its suppliers. The situation was ripe for cronyism.

Deserving questions, for example, was a design company that earned so much untendered work that they opened an office next to Knysna Tourism’s main building in Main Street. At one stage, a person was earning double fees as both Public Relations Officer for Knysna Tourism and as the Knysna Oyster Festival Manager for contractors.

Knysna-Tourism-illegal-tender-corruptionIt’s important to discover what’s happening with the Knysna Oyster Festival, an iconic and rich event whose management Knysna Tourism outsourced to WorldSport in Cape Town 480km away. Now the Municipality wants to hand over local tourism to WESGRO, also based in Cape Town.

It’s further suspicious that the festival was protected, also via Cape Town. For example, I reported that the liquor licence was wrongly granted because the liquor was to be sold on school property. Thys Giliomee, CEO Western Cape Liquor Authority, blocked me and CCied his response to provincial ministers (including Alan Winde). His response to a citizen in a town of only 74,000 people only seems extraordinary if one ignores who his friends are.

Giliomee had been previously sent by Premier Helen Zille to be the Acting Manager of Bitou Municipality whilst the DA were in charge. When the DA failed in their intentions to make his position permanent, he landed up with the ‘Liquor Board’ job where he was accused of wasting millions of rands on office refurbishments. The ACDP’s Ferlon Christians accused Dan Plato (same DA faction and soon to be Mayor of Cape Town) of lying about it. Thereafter, Giliomee became the Municipal Manager of the DA-led Mossel Bay where he’s currently mired in more controversy.

Knysna, Bitou and Mossel Bay fall under the recently renamed Garden Route District Municipality. It’s a playground for the DA and their friends.

But this and more are also stories best left alone or for another day. This story is long enough.

What’s important to note is that from municipal officials and Public Protector employees to the Cape Bar and the Courts, there appears to be a buddy-buddy club in the Western Cape that allows the DA to commit crime with impunity.

The province is captured. The only difference between the DA and ANC seems to be that crime is relative to how much power they possess… but party loyalty is almost absolute.

ILLEGAL USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS

Knysna Tourism ran into debt 4 years in a row and was bailed out each time by the grant-in-aid – it’s illegal to fund debt with public funds.

Although it should never have been via “grant-in-aid”, these grant-in-aids were the only not to be approved by the Municipality’s Grant-in-Aid Committee, a serious breakdown in Supply Chain Management (SCM).

Knysna Tourism mostly operated without tenders and contracts with service providers.

Public funds were illegally loaned to two private companies.

The company continued to be funded from Public coffers when it was in contravention of its SLA with the Municipality, failing to spend 20% of its funds on development. Instead, consultants benefited – which included then Chairman of the Board, Greg Vogt, who received R20,000 monthly. Office Manager Glendyrr Fick was paid a handsome salary from the development fund. Previously, she had scored a trip to Jamaica, supposedly to help Knysna’s Rastafari community (another blatant lie as her holiday had been planned before the excuse).

For almost 2 years, the organisation ran without a CEO, controlled by a few Board members headed by their Chairperson Vogt – yet it kept receiving funding.

It was illegal for the Chairman to act as an Executive according to Kings 3 rules which the organisation subscribed to – yet it kept receiving funding.

I ACCUSED THE DA OF COVER-UP

Knysna Tourism’s problems and dire financial position were swept under the rug with over R200,000 spent on court fees against then CEO Shaun van Eck.

Despite Van Eck being found guilty of 4 charges of gross misconduct (each a dismissable offence), he was instead given a R270,000 farewell, golden shower after signing a non-disclosure agreement. It was done so that the public would be denied truth and justice. I consider it to have been a bribe.

It must also be noted that Van Eck was a staunch DA supporter and a member of their Constituency.

Shaun van Eck
Shaun van Eck found guilty yet pushed out with a R270,000 golden shower

Greg Vogt eventually became CEO, granted the position by a panel crammed with conflict of interest. It conveniently included his ex-fellow Board and Committee members; then Municipal Manager Lauren Waring, ANC Chief Whip Stephen de Vries, and his Deputy Chair Nan Raturat. They were selected as the panel by the Board which included DA politicians. They were all involved in the period that finances were in the red and the CEO was ‘gracefully’ booted out. It was in their interest that the situation be managed by Vogt.

Emphasising the conflict of interest was the selection process including Dirk Joubert. Joubert was a consultant who worked with Vogt, and earned funds from Tourism under Vogt (whilst he illegally ran the company). The money they were both paid seemed to illegally come from the development fund which was supposed to help the disadvantaged communities of Knysna.

Waring had a master plan to make Knysna Tourism represent not only tourism but all business in Knysna. That attempt at control from a foothold of corruption frightened me. Alan Winde was said to be supportive. Waring, allegedly without tender, approved the initial payment for Joubert by the Knysna Municipality. Thereafter, he was paid by Knysna Tourism from funds allocated to them by Waring and Easton, approved by the DA-led Council i.e. every which way, the Public paid for a scheme they’d had no part in making.

Knysna Tourism Board members and DA Councillors ‘Ivy’ and ‘Belladonna’ (real names withheld) got promoted in Council. Tourism Finance Committee member Grant Easton was promoted to Municipal Manager (but later quit during an unrelated disciplinary hearing). The ANC’s De Vries had his studies illegally paid for by Knysna Municipality, with permission from the DA. Waring moved on to become the Executive Director: Planning and Economic Development for the 3x larger than Knysna DA-led Drakenstein Municipality. Greg Vogt, as stated, became CEO of Knysna Tourism.

Alan Winde allowed them all to be rewarded instead of being held accountable. That’s what’s called “getting into bed with each other”. Those who failed to uphold their duty to Knysna found their lives improved.

Greg Vogt
Greg Vogt was made CEO despite being involved in many controversies at the time

It was assured that no one locally in a position of relevant authority would have any interest in pursuing punishment for the maladministration and corruption at Knysna Tourism. The Tourism Board of the Directors, the Municipality and the ruling DA would not be seeking justice for the loss of millions of Public money.

Making the situation more controversial was Greg Vogt being under investigation for alleged abuse of elephants (which had become international news). He was also in dispute with his previous employers, the Knysna Elephant Park (the second biggest tourism attraction). The Park was obviously an important member of Knysna Tourism yet were sidelined as the situation was controlled.

Press releases and statements that repeatedly claimed due diligence had been followed during the selection process for CEO were proven as lies when it turned out that Vogt’s previous unhappy employers and partners hadn’t been contacted by his new ’employers’.

Vogt, arguably the worst possible person to represent a tourist-based economy, became CEO.

As with Easton becoming Municipal Manager, I’d publicly predicted Vogt being made CEO. It remains my belief that was the only way to ensure cover-up. The DA-led Council who’d continually approved the funds whilst seeking to obstruct me, would be protected, especially those who’d doubled as Directors on Knysna Tourism’s Board.

The latter included Speaker Richard Dawson who filed papers against me in High Court but never followed through. Councillor Belladonna did. It also included Dawson’s replacement, Michelle Wasserman, who is currently the DA’s mayoral candidate as the DA Federal Executive attempts to get rid of Councillor Myers and Mayor Mark Willemse who’ve refused to follow Cape Town’s instructions. Their defiance includes standing against the illegal funding of Knysna Tourism.

As with Vogt and Easton’s appointments, it’s unsurprising that Winde is now the Premier Candidate whilst his previous associate, Wasserman, became the Knysna Mayoral candidate the same week, only two months after she rejoined the DA as a citizen member. Wasserman has stated that she’ll answer questions once she’s returned to Council but in order for that to happen, someone has to agree to leave the Council, or be forced out. There’s also no reason for her to not answer now which suggests whose bed she’s chosen to climb into.

Instead of 8 years of controversy, the DA could have chosen to admit a problem – fix it – punish – and move on. That would have benefited Knysna, providing stability and saving a fortune. It also would have backed up the DA’s claims to be anti-corruption. Instead, for the sake of protecting a few and the DA’s fake image as a party of clean governance, accountability and transparency (the foundation of their 2011 election campaign which won them Knysna), the controversy continues.

OBSTRUCTION

In 2011, I was officially and unconstitutionally blocked by then Mayor Georlene Wolmarans (she’s now the Speaker). It was ironic considering Wolmaran’s repeated election promise that “her doors were open”.

That decision to obstruct me was the result of Municipal Manager Lauren Waring meeting with the Mayoral Committee which included councillors Michelle Wasserman and Belladonna. Waring and Wasserman were allegedly the instigators therein. It was obviously in the interest of several of them to stop me asking them questions they didn’t want to answer. They claimed that they obstructed me so as to spare irrelevant junior staff my emails.

da_header_hell_shaun.van_.eck_michelle.wasserman_georlene.wolmarans
A banner I’d made in protest against Michelle Wasserman, Georlene Wolmarans and Shaun Van Eck (left to right)

Wolmaran’s letter to me deliberately avoided mentioning Knysna Tourism yet carried a threatening undertone in that all my emails to them had been sent to MEC Alan Winde and Premier Helen Zille, as if I’d done something wrong. The more experienced activist I’m now appreciates her letter as further evidence that major DA leaders have long failed to act as the Preventing and Combating of Corruption Act requires them to.

Zille and Winde also failed to help when approached directly by me the same year. Again, the DA was blocking me. Their lack of co-operation and their allowance for political hindrance would extend.

Many others wouldn’t respond. That included Director Corporate Services Bevan Ellman and Councillor Ivy who went on to become Mayor. Ivy had previously lied to me that she wasn’t involved with Knysna Tourism when she was secretly a Board Director. The attention I’d given them made them react in alarming manner. The change in directors went unpublished for a period and the company even closed down its membership website.

I blogged strongly against Councillor Ivy when she lied that she’d meet me but didn’t. Her response was to try discredit me. The DA-loyal Knysna-Plett Herald, which had a 400-word limit, published her 1000-word letter against me… and refused me right of reply.

The following people took legal action against me as individuals but obviously as part of a coordinated DA attack. They sought interdicts and protection orders which would effectively gag me and put the Public’s best interest last. All are linked to the corruption at Knysna Tourism, either directly or via relationship,

  • DA Councillor Belladonna
  • DA Councillor Ivy
  • DA Speaker Richard Dawson
  • DA Concordia Branch Manager Magda Moos
  • Knysna Tourism CEO Greg Vogt
  • Mark Allan (friend of Knysna Tourism CEO van Eck and propagandist partner of the DA
  • Baden Hall (friend of Knysna Tourism CEO van Eck)
  • Lawyer Hemlock

In addition to her own case against me, Lawyer Hemlock participated in at least 5 of the other cases against me. As stated, it was a coordinated attack.

I believe that when the Hawks retrieve the Baden Hall’s case, the initial case, from the SAPS archives, it will likely list many who would later attack me. A policeman told me that it contains supporting statements by politicians and tourism members.

ZILLE & WINDE & MYERS

After Premier Helen Zille publicly refused to answer my questions in 2014, MEC Alan Winde came to her rescue by telling the Knysna crowd of DA supporters that he’d have a meeting with me the following day. Accompanying him was then DA Constituency Chairperson Peter Myers and DA Concordia Branch manager Magda Moos.

It turned out that their goal was to only to pretend to be helpful whilst maintaining the blockade against me.

This is an extract from a letter I sent them out of frustration:

“The goal has long been to understand the financial situation and management of Knysna. This email primarily concerns the Knysna Tourism aspect of that. It further serves to assess the credibility of Alan Winde’s (MEC for Tourism, Finance & Development), Peter Meyer’s (Knysna DA Constituent) and a DA Branch Manager’s (Magda Moos) offer to assist and the DA’s claim to transparency and accountability.

I have exhaustively tried to get answers and being repeatedly blocked for almost 3 years by the DA, Knysna Municipality (KM) and the Knysna Tourism Board. It is notable that you, Alan Winde, have been contacted several times the past 2 years. It beggars belief that you, as MEC for Tourism, whose made many visits to Knysna Tourism, are not aware of the problems and controversy they’ve experienced.

At our Feb 1 2014 meeting at the Log-Inn Hotel, you promised to deliver detailed budgets of Knysna Tourism but have so far failed to do so. However, in an email, you said, ‘I am aware that Mike’s mail below asks for deeper detail on the tourism budgets. Once he gives me the detail needed I will ask for it on your behalf and report back to the group. I’d clearly asked for a budget, as I have many times, that shows exactly who got paid what. Nevertheless, to seize the opportunity for 100% clarity on Knysna Tourism’s finances, i’ve supplied a summary of my previously, unanswered questions (which are 100% relevant).

It is further notable that you, Alan, have refused several requests for an audio copy of the Log-Inn meeting – that recording should have been the foundation for follow-up. It makes no sense (except if the reason is to delay) that I provide the minutes (from memory) of the meeting before you will give me the recording you have in your possession. The recording would be 100% accurate.

Helen Zille
Premier Helen Zille

Alan Winde, please erase my doubts and worry that this is yet another blockade by the DA. Please respond to this email positively and actively. Please be genuinely helpful. Let’s get this matter behind us and look towards the future of Knysna.

Helen Zille, I address you (again), as DA Leader and Premier of the Western Cape, as you have also been aware of my complaints and requests for investigation into Knysna Tourism (KT) for over two years. This bad situation has been allowed to carry on for far too long. You’ve failed to respond to a single complaint and publicly perpetuated the falsehood that I’d been helped. You have failed to address those who’ve poorly represented us. I can hope that you will finally step in, first by responding with emailed good intention and, secondly, by encouraging all involved (that includes your local councillors) to cooperate. You should extend that goodwill by responding to the challenge I made to both you and Alan, and the letter entitled, ‘Dear Helen Zille, You’re My Disappointment’. These are serious issues that should not be recklessly (or intentionally) disregarded.

Your silence conflicts with the DA’s promised rules of engagement and accountability and thus, in turn, has become a serious issue itself.

Please start upholding the DA’s website promise of “a maximum 30-day turnaround time for national correspondence”. Your failure to act has cost Knysna a fortune and contradicts the local election promise of austerity.

The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act does not allow you to ignore maladministration (and I’ve repeatedly made you aware of the maladministration and possible fraud at Knysna Tourism – ignorance is impossible). You have also failed the Local Government Municipal Finance Act which states ‘that a municipal entity must investigate allegations of financial misconduct against the accounting officer, a senior manager or other official of the entity’.

There has only been silence, delays and reasons why not to answer my questions – that can only be labelled as cover-up. Choose to stop that negative process now. What’s in the best interests of Knysna should be in the DA’s interests, as the ruling party, too!

Honour your claimed DA policy of committing to ‘efficiency and accountability’, ‘clear complaints and feedback mechanisms’, and having ‘constant and ongoing interaction between the government and its voters at all times’.

Say that you will gladly cooperate (because you believe in transparency).”

Winde refused to hand over the recording of that meeting. I believe that he wouldn’t because it would implicate him.

Moos, a Public figure, was granted a protection order against me for me taking her photo and blogging that she’d lied about sorting the Knysna Tourism issue. She tried to get her daughter included in the protection order which was ridiculous in that I had no dealings with her. However, her daughter was best friends with Mayor Wolmaran’s daughter, both working for the Municipality… and soon thereafter, her daughter got a job working in the Mayor’s office.

I have contacted Winde and Zille many times since, helplessly sharing my growing mountain of evidence.

Councillor Peter Myers also refused to help. He chose a side, becoming their Deputy Mayor in 2016. Only in 2017, when Myers got in a faction fight that threatened his position, did he suddenly stand against the illegal funding of Knysna Tourism, using it as a weapon against Councillor Ivy who headed the faction that Winde and Zille were then supporting.

Even then, despite me having been the only person to fight that corruption for years, Myers still never spoke to me, not even as a witness.

KNYSNA & PARTNERS

In 2015, the organisation was expanded to include all business in Knysna, not just the tourism industry. Corruption wasn’t allowed to delay the bigger plan. Greg Vogt and several of the same directors stayed in power in the ‘new company’ which had been renamed Knysna & Partners.

Fran Kirsten
Fran Kirsten, choker of communication

However, later, once Vogt was forced out by Deputy Mayor Peter Myers (who was then punished by the DA through demotion), the organisation returned to its roots as Knysna Tourism. That meant that everything spent on changing the organisation was more fruitless and wasteful expenditure. That cost has not been told to the Public.

Frank Kirsten was previously a Knysna-Plett Herald newspaper reporter who’d refused to act on my evidence against Knysna Tourism. It was unsurprising when she became the new public relations officer for Knysna & Partners (whilst continuing to write part-time for the newspaper). She refused me entry to the inauguration of Vogt as CEO where it was guaranteed that I’d have asked questions they didn’t want to answer.

Later, once Knysna & Partners imploded, Kirsten was looked after, contracted illegally by Councillor Belladonna as the Communications Manager for Knysna Municipality. The Auditor General dismissed that she was a specialist, as the Municipality claimed in defence of their ’emergency’ decision to hire her. The Auditor General objected to there having been no tender and found against the over R300,000 she’d earned.

Kirsten’s role, by lies and omissions, had also protected the DA and their cronies.

THE SAPS, ZILLE & OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC PROTECTOR

For my 2013 complaint, the George Office of the Public Protector (George OPP) contacted then Knysna Municipal Manager (MM) Lauren Waring who would not help them. According to her, Knysna Tourism was a private company and as such was beyond her jurisdiction. Investigator Bruce Wessels, with whom I’d already had an extensive meeting, accepted that despite knowing that she was lying because:

  1. Knysna Tourism’s existence was dependent on taxpayers’ money.
  2. Knysna Tourism Corporate Governance states that “the company has been set up as a PUBLIC private partnership between Knysna Tourism and Knysna Municipality. Knysna Tourism acts on behalf of the Knysna Municipality in promoting tourism for the area, and as such the Municipality is the primary source of funding for the company. A service level agreement (SLA) determines the formal responsibilities of both parties covering the funding arrangements provided by the Municipality, and the audit, reporting, business planning, compliance and performance evaluations placed on Knysna Tourism.”
  3. Claire Kretzmann (Director of Michaelides & Co Inc.) stated in the then independent Auditor’s report: “We draw attention to the director’s report which indicates that the company incurred a net loss of R302 709 for the year ended 28 February 2013 and, as at that date, the companies liabilities exceeded its total assets by R148 668. The director’s report also indicates that these conditions, along with other matters, indicate the existence of material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern. The most significant of these is the ongoing support of the Knysna Municipality through the Municipal Grant-in-Aid.”
  4. The Board of Directors and Committees included several councillors and municipal officials e.g. Grant Easton, then the CFO for Knysna Municipality (who thereafter became MM), was on Tourism’s Financial Committee.
  5. The minutes of a Tourism Committee meeting in February 2013, at which Easton was present, had him illegally state that Public funds would be used to cover the company’s debt.
  6. When I’d previously expressed my fear to Wessels that he’d be blocked from true investigation, Wessels promised me he would follow the money and never let this case go. That was a lie as he blatantly and suspiciously did so after a call in which he told me he was under pressure from his bosses to drop it.
  7. The OPP would not act on my complaint.
  8. After I petitioned the Parliament’s National Council of Provinces (NCOP), an action they named as the ‘Love Knysna Petition’, the OPP had to submit info to NCOP’s Committee Petitions & Executive Undertakings. I PAIAed the OPP for it but they wouldn’t respond. I eventually gained the info from the Committee. It showed that Wessels had consulted his boss Advocate Ruthven Janse van Rensburg, then the OPP’s Provincial Representative to the Western Cape. They discussed the merits of the investigation on Dec 12 2013. Subsequently, the case was closed, the lie being: “Findings: The allegation against Knysna Tourism was found to be unsubstantiated. Conclusion: This office does not have the jurisdiction to investigate the matter.”
Public Protector investigator Bruce Wessels
Public Protector investigator Bruce Wessels unfortunately not as big when tackling DA corruption

Investigator Bruce Wessels well knew that Public funds must be accounted for wherever they go. He knew the relationship between Knysna Municipality and Knysna Tourism. He knew that without funding from the former the latter wouldn’t exist. He knew that the Municipality and the DA were on the Board and sub-committees. He promised me he would never let the case go. He then tells me that he’s under pressure from his bosses to drop the case. The case is then dropped. The OPP fails to act on my complaints and my PAIA. Despite my insistence,  the OPP fails to reveal the identity of Wessels’ boss. Then, by omission, the OPP misleads the NCOP Committee. Then it releases a report that whitewashes the DA’s involvement from existence.

So why was my complaint dropped, Knysna and logic abandoned, and I treated so negatively? I’ve found only one logical reason which is that the Western Cape OPP protects the DA and, in turn or concurrently, the OPP staff protect their own.

I have come across two criticisms by others that Advocate Van Rensburg failed to act appropriately when investigating matters involving the DA-run Western Cape Government.

One claimed that the 2012 TBWA-Hunt Lascaris communications tender report by the OPP was diluted. The other that there was alleged abuse of power by cabinet members of the Western Cape Government over the independent provincial agency, CapeNature. Van Rensburg allegedly stated to the complainant that the latter was a politically sensitive matter. The complainant was told by one of Van Rensburg’s successors that the complaint was never recorded and had vanished.

This doesn’t mean that the allegations of the complainants are true but it made me suspicious. This isn’t to debate those merits but to point out that through this I was informed that Van Rensburg had taken a job with the Western Cape Government as the Chief Director of their Forensic Investigative Unit (FIU – since renamed). Advocate Tyrone Jacobs (Filcon fraud investigator), also from the OPP’s Cape Town office, was hired as Deputy Director.

Notably, the FIU falls under the Department of the Premier which, at that time and until now, means Helen Zille is their boss. It’s a striking coincidence. Unsurprisingly, Zille and Van Rensburg would not respond to my queries.

Advocate Ruthven Janse Van Rensburg
Advocate Ruthven Janse Van Rensburg now working for Helen Zille

Van Rensburg’s starting date with Zille is publicly unavailable. But on September 10 2014, 10 months after Van Rensburg’s meeting with Wessel’s, the Mail & Guardian confirmed his resignation and published this odd statement: “Janse van Rensburg is understood to have resigned some time ago. He was not available for an interview but he appears to still be based at the public protector’s office in the Western Cape, when the M&G called the office on Wednesday.”

The following month, Van Rensburg was the contact person for applicants for 11 forensic consultants for the Department of the Premier.

My newfound knowledge of the FIU raised the question why Zille never directed the FIU to investigate any of my many complaints… or doesn’t the FIU investigate crime linked to the DA?

On March 11 2012, a Western Cape Government press release concerning the successes of the FIU praised the cooperation of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in George.

In contrast, the ‘George cluster’, as its known, failed to investigate my 2013 and 2015 complaints [Oudt 106-2013, Knysna 105-05-2015 & 105-05-2015] against corruption in the DA-led Knysna Municipality. I was so convinced that the Hawks wouldn’t help me that in one of my affidavits I stated that the case must not go to George lest it be buried. However, the local SAPS investigator, who told me it should be considered as organised crime, took both cases (involving Knysna Tourism and the ISDF tender) to George where they were effectively buried.

If they had investigated, they would have had knowledge of, and thus access, to assistance from FIU and/or the Premier’s office.

The current Hawks inquiry is bigger than the George Cluster.

KNYSNA TOURISM OFFICIALLY ILLEGAL

The Knysna Council agenda supplementary for August 13 2018 mentioned Knysna Tourism’s funding and contract more than ever before. This was possibly because Director Planning Marlene Boyce was the Acting Municipal Manager whilst the agenda was prepared. Boyce is a friend of Councillor Peter Myers. Both Myers and Boyce were against the SLA with Knysna Tourism.

The legal argument used by the Knysna Municipality against the funding of Knysna Tourism is the same legal argument I had stated for years. The Municipality and Council always knew it was illegal but because of a DA faction fight (Myers and Willemse versus the rest of the DA), they were finally forced to change their relationship with Knysna Tourism.

Peter Myers Knysna DA Fedex battle
Councillor Peter Myers

The report makes no mention of the May 2017 Cliffe Decker Hofmeyr legal opinion which would have substantiated this and my position. The opinion, procured by the Municipality, was rumoured to be expensive. It must be considered fruitless expenditure as the illegality of Knysna Tourism has always been logical i.e. I’m a citizen versus a government that knows more than me.

Nevertheless, the Cliffe Decker Hofmeyr report makes it clear that politicians should not be on the Board of Tourism and that the services must be put out to tender.

Although the SLA and funding had always been illegal, the report states that the SLA expired in June 2018 i.e. Tourism was funded for at least another two months beyond contract.

The report refers to a meeting with the provincial Departments of the Premier and Tourism. Notably it doesn’t state with whom but with or without them, Premier Helen Zille and MEC Alan Winde would be responsible, two people who have been reminded for years by me of this maladministration and corruption.

Additionally, I was informed that MEC Alan Winde had chosen to ignore the report when it first came out. He’d allegedly ordered the DA to approve Tourism’s illegal funding again (which they did). This is substantiated to a degree by my call to Knysna Tourism Board Chairperson Elmay Bouwer. According to her, I was the first to inform her that Winde had ordered her company’s funding.

On September 15 2018, an anonymous informant sent me 12 of the 17 pages of the De Swardt Vogel Myambo Attorneys investigation. It expresses a number of irregularities and calls for disciplinary hearings and crinminal charges against two directors and Councillor Ivy. One of the charges is that Knysna Tourism was illegally funded, and that the Municipal Manager’s contract was fraudulently backdated in order to try make the transfer look legitimate.

It’s been 10 days since I sent that report to the DA Federal Executive, Mmusi Maimane, Helen Zille, Alan Winde, Anton Bredell and many others. They’ve again chosen silence instead of embracing the fight against corruption. It’s highly likely that they would have been aware of the report before me which is one reason why I believe they suddenly dropped supporting Councillor Ivy, instead switching to Michelle Wasserman.  The situation would’ve also weakened Madikizela’s attempt at becoming Premier. Additionally, Councillor Ivy got an interim order against me just before the report was presented to Council in a secret meeting. Again, I believe that the DA was gagging me against the Public’s best interest.

CAPE TOWN IN CHARGE OF KNYSNA?

The goal now is to contract Knysna’s tourism function to WESGRO (the tourism, trade, investment and promotion agency for Cape Town and surrounding areas). This may not be legal as local tourism is the function of Local Government. Nevertheless, both sides of the DA are determined to go ahead with it.

Mark Willemse Knysna
Mayor Mark Willemse

A July 31 2018 statement from DA Mayor Mark Willemse showed that Knysna Municipality had already made a decision without the required Public participation process.

Although stable tourism management is vital for the health of Knysna, none can honestly claim urgency (as they did here) because this has been an ongoing mess since my arguments began with them late 2010.

WESGRO already has a relationship with the provincial seat of power, the City of Cape Town. It cannot be ruled out that the bigger relationship there would out influence the local interests of Knysna. It’s worrying that MEC Tourism Alan Winde, whose soon to become Premier of the Western Cape, would retain influence over the corrupt company misnamed Knysna Tourism. There’s no guarantee that the staff and Board on the ground won’t simply be retained under WESGRO – no one punished, the cover-up continued.

My fears are validated by the DA and Provincial Government long being aware and in possession of documents relating to my similar complaints to Parliament (2015-2018) and the Public Protector (2013). My PAIA’s to Knysna Municipality, Knysna Tourism and the Office of the Premier remain unanswered.

CONCLUSION

Solly Fourie Western Cape Government tourism
Solly Fourie

Since my protest began, Knysna Tourism illegally received approximately R34-million of taxpayers’ money. It’s inception was 8 years before that, in 2000. Consequently, the final figure will be nearer R50-million. That private company, with politicians on its Board of Directors, was able to pay whichever contractors they favoured.

I was told by an insider that MEC Alan Winde couldn’t afford to allow Knysna Tourism to be exposed and punished because that would affect “another 30 municipalities” who were similarly and illegally funding private companies to fulfill their tourism mandate.

I know some but not all e.g. Mossel Bay Tourism and Plett Tourism are also Section 21 companies mostly funded by Local Government. The ANC recently took over Bitou Municipality (a.k.a. Plett) but the organisation was set up by the DA.

Consequently, I don’t know what the final loss will be but its reasonable to conclude that it will run into hundreds of millions of rands.

Getting the whole truth and a final figure will be obstructed.

The latest barricade was erected by Solly Fourie who works for Winde as Head of Department Economic Development & Tourism. His response to my PAIA for answers was:

“I need to draw your attention to the fact that the Department is not in possession of a funding model for the tourism function of any municipality in the Western Cape. Local tourism is a local government competence. As such, the Department also does not have any record of money received by municipalities from public funds nor in respect of any agreements entered into. It is therefore suggested that in order to obtain copies of the relevant records you request directly to the relevant municipalities. Hope the above information suffices.”

My response to Solly was:

“Your wrongful stance saves me the appeal delay. From the Constitution, one goes down to Provincial Legislation and thereafter to Local Government Legislation to look at competencies. Tourism may falls under the competencies of a municipality but it has to go through you. What you’re effectively saying is that you and provincial government doesn’t matter, doesn’t need to exist. That, of course, is impossible because you, Solly Fourie, do exist. In your position, you cannot be unaware of who I am and my fight against the illegal funding of Knysna Tourism and your boss. Your argument is obviously misleading and obstructive. It shows loyalty to Alan Winde and the DA, not the Public. It’s loyalty to corruption. If you wish to prove me wrong, then tell me that it matters to you that tourism companies are [allowed to] be illegally funded by your department. That would be a positive beginning.”

The DA makes mockery of interviews and elections. They’re a party of control. They have a plan that was revealed by UDM Leader Bantu Holimisa on January 10 2018, long before the premiership was a Public issue. Holomisa said:

“Impeccable sources have informed us that there is something else brewing within the DA and that a bigger scheme is afoot; getting rid of Ms De Lille is just the first step. This severity of the situation is downplayed in the media and what we read in the newspapers is tip of the iceberg. Time will tell if the following information is true or not but we have been informed that the real reason behind the DA-led attack on Ms De Lille is that they have earmarked Mr Alan Winde as the next Western Cape Premier. The decision has created the problem of what to with Mr Bonginkosi Madikizela, the Provincial leader. The solution is to make [him Mayor of the city of Cape Town… Most notably, Mr Winde has been and continues to be extremely silent – even absent – from the current De Lille ‘created crisis’.”

The plan for Madikizela may have changed as his mistakes imploded. He may have then entered the Premier race himself but when Maimane threatened Winde’s ascension, Madikizela fell in line, supported Winde and sought to discredit Maimane in the media. He may be upset at remaining an MEC but, for now, he’s loyal to the faction.

I’m no fan of ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs who has long possessed evidence against Knysna Tourism yet failed to act on it. He’s not ANC, just a career politician who occasionally says things so as to pretend to be opposition. I may not agree with his opportunism after Winde was announced as the DA’s preferred candidate but there’s merit in his words:

“It is clear that Helen Zille is still the real power in the DA. She has ensured that her preferred candidate Alan Winde has emerged victorious. Winde, like Zille, has demonstrated that his main task has been the preservation of economic power in the hands of a privileged elite who have always controlled the provincial economy.”

The illegalities, which deserve in-depth investigation and accountability, are being swept under a blue carpet. The DA has blatantly lead a song and dance atop that carpet for a long time. Leaders address problems, they don’t dance.

alan.winde
Alan Winde, a DA insult against the Public interest

Leaders eat last, putting the Public first.

Zille, Selfe and Madikizela aren’t leaders.

Alan Winde isn’t a leader. If he’s anointed by the DA as Premier of the Western Cape, it will be for the political and financial benefit of their party and their friends.

But it’s not only Winde’s premiership that’s at stake, nor the DA’s plan for him. South Africa’s General Election is likely to be held in May 2019, less than 8 months from now. The DA has been involved in other controversies for a year. It’s guaranteed that they, as the biggest opposition party, will take a beating but how much is the question. It’s assured that they cannot afford a spotlight on their tourism funding scandal. It would make their pointing fingers at others blatantly hypocritical.

Let’s hope the Hawks do their job.

And Parliament, which has held three hearings for my petition, needs to finish their job too.

I will continue to do mine.

Alan Winde and the DA will undoubtedly continue serving only themselves.

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