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Detailed Charges Against Knysna Tourism’s ex-CEO — 43 Comments

  1. Sorry about that. I get it now.

    Someone whipped my petrol card, drivers licence and Wild Card out of my cars cubby hole, along with my wallet. And so I went down to the Council Offices to get a copy licence. The SAP were most obliging and almost opened a docket. But since I am not going to claim insurance they suggested there was no need to report the theft and that an affidavit would do the job. Next call was the Photo Shop next to Spar where I made the mistake of thinking I could park and pop in quickly.

    I did eventually get everything I needed and then proceeded to the Council Offices not realising that you guys knocked off on the 23rd and will only get back to work on the 2nd. Enjoy! Compliments of the season and take it real easy.

    • The system does not work. Never allow the police to do that otherwise you become complicit in dumbing down the statistics. Additionally, considering that we’re a tourist town, office hours should especially be arranged around the holidays.

  2. Mike you appear to have mended fences with the Tourism Board. But stranger still is the fact you even appear to be going soft on the Knysna Council and the Municipality. Can we expect to see you strutting the blue and white in the near future?

    What happened to the outspoken activist or are you ready to admit that Lauren Waring appears to be doing a good job, that you are pleasantly surprised and do you have it in you to admit that you were wrong all along?

    Should be interesting?

    • That’s seems reasonable but it’s quite possibly a goading statement too so in future, for comment approval, i will need you to show your true identity. For all i know, you are Shaun van Eck.

      As to a final answer, i don’t know yet where i stand with the Tourism Board but, as said, i would welcome the association but unanswered questions need to be answered and the budget must still be looked at. I give the Board credit for finally taking action but they must still get rid of old baggage too.

      New year and all, i welcome meetings with leaders and politicians who’ve been unhelpful in the past. Note that Deputy Mayor Michelle Wasserman turned down my request to meet and Lauren Waring has never had an open door. They have an extremely difficult job but until they’re transparent i will continue to consider them as salary grabbers rather than public servants. Both have lied in the past. It’s up to them to choose to shine.

  3. Who the flying rhino is Prisoner_in_my_home, and why doesn’t he or she have the courtesy to spell my name correctly or even to use my honor title? (It’s ‘Mr.’ – only the petty-minded, school teachers and such, call people by their surnames. And yes, I know people in the media like to do it, too. But it’s condescending and petty minded. Oh wait… that’s what Prisoner_in_my_home wanted to achieve, you say? Well! What a brave person. And hiding behind a pen name – and everything!)

    Secondly, when are you, Mike, going to get that I don’t have an axe to grind for Shaun, but that I do want to know why YOU are grinding away as you are? You say you’re doing it for the greater good.

    Yeah, of course you are.

    And if you – both you, Mike, and Prisoner_in_my_home – cared to do just the teeniest bit of digging around in my very well known blog – http://www.thistourismweek.co.za – you would discover that I am not a journalist. Never have been, never wanted to be.

    I am, instead, a tourism consultant. An opinionated one with nearly 30 years of experience.

    What tourism consultant that you know does any investigative journalism?

    You, Mike, have set yourself up as the digger after truth. You’re the one who has set yourself up as a journalist, this time. But I question your ethics as a journalist. You appear to me to be delighting in digging Shaun’s grave. And all because he pulled the rug on one of your projects? You’ve admitted that, and now, I think, that’s why you’re going after him.

    It’s not nice.

    I’ve been fired by clients before, Mike. And you were fired by Shaun. So man up: move on and do something more constructive.

    I will reserve my judgement of Shaun’s management of Knysna Tourism until the findings of the CCMA are made known, since – get this – I don’t have access to the inner workings of the board or the company.

    Yes, even though he is religious – and I am predisposed to dislike believers for the self-deluded, wilful fools they usually are – I do personally like Shaun. I never did any business with him in his capacity as CEO. Until very recently, my contract with Mossel Bay Tourism precluded me from doing business with any of the DMOs in the Garden Route and Klein Karoo. And I stick to my contracts.

    Sorry, Mike, but I really dislike what YOU are doing.

    • The fact is, despite all the talk, which is reiteration, you never addressed the subject which is the charges against Shaun van Eck. All your comments have been aimed at me which is far too suspicious as to motive. It deflects from the seriousness of the issue. As for your definitions of journalism, it’s semantics. We’re both bloggers with an interest in the tourism of our town. One of my goals was to expose Shaun van Eck and financial mismanagement of our town. No one else was. Whether my methods were liked or not, i did so.

      PS: Was offline for a week so which i spent sorting a myriad of files on my computer. This led me to Belthar’s Garden which had sadly slipped through the cracks of my intentions. Read it. Loved it. One of the best short story’s i’ve read. A credit to Knysna. Well done.

      • Sean has been fired. This much we all know. He has been fired because his relationship with his employer has broken down. They cannot reach an agreement, they don’t get along, it’s a head banging exercise. Despite this his employer has been at pains to stress that there is no suggestion that any dishonesty is involved. And Shaun, not understanding the role of, nor the responsibilities of a CEO, is intent on proving once and for all that he is not a CEO.

        There you have it. No big deal.

        But the question that is being asked is why you believe it is so much more serious than it is, or to cover myself, appears to be at this stage of the proceedings? Did Shaun do nothing positive during his tenure at Tourism? Who placed that advert in Action Ads purporting to be from the Rastafarian Community? Do they not understand the risk that they are taking? Do they not know how this town works?

          1. The first point in my letter to the Board, before his hearing ,was that regardless of all the facts against him, the fact that the relationship had broken down was sufficient to remove him as CEO.
          2. You agree that Shaun has not acted as a CEO. Consequently, his actions as a marketer do not justify his lack of actions as a CEO. Shaun also took credit for the actions of others. They should start speaking up publicly.
          3. Millions in surplus spent during tough times, tourism monies run through his personal account, over a hundred thousand loaned to a private company, a six-figure penalty to be paid to the taxman etc. How could that not be treated seriously?! And i do know more than that but, as it so often happens, i can’t blog it if the people who’ve spoken to me don’t have the balls to go on the record.
          4. A classified in support of van Eck does not miraculously lessen his misdeeds. It was, in fact, by a member of Judah Square. That person is unaware of any of the details involved in the case against Eck. That person is also always looking for the bright side of life. I may be a more conflicted soul than that but i do respect the good that this person does in Knysna. Consequently, i may disagree with the advert but that is not going to make me debate it with him/her as it’s minor compared to the value of this person. In this case, i’d rather support their right to disagree with me and do my best to support his or hers good efforts overall. And, if i can say that, of all people, then i’m sure others will share the sentiment.
          • One of the questions I asked was whether Shaun did any “good” during his tenure at Tourism. And I think that there is at least one person who has stepped forward to confirm that he was not all bad. I am also very glad to see that you don’t personally begrudge the Rastafarian Community the right they have to publically go on record thanking Shaun for the work he and Tourism have done to promote their interests. Because you can and do get nasty when you get your dander up. Martin has also said that despite everything he actually liked Shaun for what he was. And we all know Martin as a colourful character who is not shy to call a spade a spade.

            But are there not others out there?

            The other point that I made, was that this is no big deal. That is based on the facts that are in the public domain. Are you saying that there is more to come. that you are privy to privileged information that says there is fraud and corruption involved? I sincerely hope so, because all we have to go on at the moment, are errors of judgement, lack of capacity and a reluctance to take instruction and guidance. Misdemeanours which have led to a confrontation with the Knysna Tourism Board. It’s nothing more serious than a clash of ego’s, internal politics and the breakdown of a working relationship. All perfectly normal in the course of business and nothing to get excited about

            You quite obviously have never been in a situation which requires you hire, fire, manage and administer. But please let me assure you that there is not a hell of a lot one can do with an annual budget of six or even eight million. I understand that the CEO was on a monthly salary of some sixty thousand. Is that correct? If it is and if I was paying that salary, I would expect him to make decisions. And if he did not, if he did not deliver and come up to expectations I would expect him to walk away from the job. So I don’t see that he has done anything wrong other than to prove he was not the man who should have been appointed to do the job in the first place.

            What have I got wrong? What do I not understand? What do you know, that I do not know?

          • I can answer all of this but this backwards and forwards banter never seems to end and the underlining fact is that it’s meant to lessen the severity of Shaun van Eck’s actions. It doesn’t actually address the charges against him. I have to wonder as to your motive. I want active citizens but not anonymous ones. Reveal who you are and how you are involved with Knysna. Let’s understand your associations and underline your credibility. If you do so, i don’t want rehashed comments but i’m willing to post a blog you compose that substantiates all that you’ve said. Ball in your court.

            PS: Your assumption is incorrect. I’ve closed offices of crooks.

        • Disagree with: “Despite this his employer has been at pains to stress that there is no suggestion that any dishonesty is involved.” One of the gross misconduct charges against him was dishonesty to the Board. What they said at the Tourism meeting was “no embezzlement/fraud”. I debate that. And that part was them undoubtedly covering themselves because of the lawsuits van Eck has initiated against individuals on the Board. They were also receiving legal advice which has probably changed as they changed their minds regarding not publicly stating the charges (which is most of the blog above).

          One of my criticisms of the Board was that they should have gunned Shaun with everything they had so that the public was clearly aware of the situation. Grey areas and gossip does not help the town. It could have been avoided. Better to ‘damage’ and then repair as quickly as possible.

          On the other hand, the Board members are volunteers, most with their own businesses to run. I can understand some mistakes along the way. No matter how right one believes they are, being sued will put one on guard because i doubt there’s anyone who has 100% faith in the legal system…or, on a simple level, want to expend the amount of time this will consume.

  4. I find it interesting that Martin Hatchell believes that this blogger had a personal axe to grind with the now, ex CEO of Knysna Tourism, because in making this allegation, it is clear that Hatchell and van Eck had a personal relationship – (and Hatchell, age and education unknown is in the business of defending his “friends”). The disposal of Van Eck is now a matter of Public Record. I would be very interested to know what his previous position was and why he left that position and it is relatively easy to get this information. Leaves me wondering what “benefit” Hatchell was receiving from van Eck in his personal capacity or the Knysna Tourism Board. And now that van Eck is gone, is Hatchell biting his nails at the prospect of not receiving benefits? Who knows? The truth will probably never be revealed. I can assure you though, Mr Hatchell, that the “fish rots from the head”. I know Mike personally but have not known him for any considerable length of time. He was also instrumental in getting Colonel Nolan of the SAPS out of Knysna (and PLEASE don’t tell me you don’t know about the corruption and general ineptitude that reeks out of the building that houses the SAPS). The same ineptitude , arrogance and outright rudeness emanates from the hallowed halls of the Knysna District Court. I have first had experience of both, having been the victim of a violent assault by a man I did not know, had never seen before and have never seen since (you got nearly R300 000 in small change in your back pocket to pay for multiple surgeries – you probably don’t ). Knysna Plett Herald paid a visit to my home, took photographs and then refused to run the story. Why? The Knysna Plett Herald and The Tourism Board are bed together. Middle Aged Grandmother brutally assaulted 2 minutes from her home (and no, its not in Central) by an unknown man – don’t want people reading that – it would make Knysna look like a dangerous place. Accident involving residents of Epilepsy SA – Hell’s Teeth, thats front page news. And Hatchell, before you snicker, I am Epileptic myself as are two of my daughters and one of my granddaughters, so do not misread this and think that I am insensitive. Knysna, the “prettiest town in South Africa” and the town in which I was born and raised is rotten to the core. Kudos to Mike for exposing the corrupt and inept character that van Eck is. More Kudos for being instrumental in having Colonel Nolan moved out of Knysna. If you, Hatchell, are so interested in cronyism and corruption in Knysna, why did you not do anything about it? The question begs. I will bet that you are teetering on tenter hooks waiting to see if another friend of yours lands the post of CEO of Knysna Tourism Board, to ensure your obvious good standard of living. Knysna is crumbling and the only way to rebuild it is to let it collapse to the floor first. But then, like countless others before you, you would simply up and leave and move on to the next town along the Garden Route. George maybe? Mossel Bay? I am one hundred percent behind Mike. Yes, he can be abrasive, but that does not make Shaun van Eck right. He screwed the residents of Knysna over big time. As far as I am aware, Mike is a member of the Tourism Board and that is his involvement. It is high time, that the mini megalomaniacs are ousted out of their positions and that people, with impeccable records, the best qualifications and those with personal and professional integrity are placed in positions of power and responsibility in Knysna. And with “responsibility” comes “accountability” To my mind, a forensic audit should be carried out in terms of the financial activities of the Knysna Tourism Board, and should irregularities be found, van Eck should be prosecuted. I note from Mike’s response to you, that you are journalist. Whether you hold a degree in Journalism or not, is not clear to me. However, I agree with Mike that you are biased. A Journalist worth his or her salt would investigate and report on an unbiased basis. Bring Knysna to its knees and rebuild the town. If you have the slightest interest in the town and its residents itself, then you will be part of that. If not, you will have have exposed yourself and shown your true colours with your aggressive and uncalled for attacks on a person who does have the interests of Knysna and its people to heart. I would suggest that you take a few weeks and try and get some level of understanding as to what has been going on, unchecked, in Knysna, before leveling personal attacks on people in public forum.

    • Thank you for the support. I do find it bizarre that i’m the main issue rather than the ex-CEO who was found guilty on so many charges but i’d like to correct some of what you said.

      1. I respect Martin’s role in tourism on the Garden Route. We’ve always gotten along so i’m not about to judge him on 2 or 3 days of comments. Years hopefully count more.
      2. I don’t know Martin’s agenda in this instance but i was disappointed that Mosselbay had snapped up his services several times whereas Knysna Tourism hadn’t.
      3. I did take on the Colonel, and will continue to pursue Knysna’s rotten police, but my part was small. In all likelihood, no matter the charges against him, he incurred the wrath of a superior who was given an excuse to move him. Fact is, the police simply play musical chairs (that’s Russian roulette to the public) with their corrupt. The Colonel and the Lt. Colonel got moved to George. George’s Colonel got moved here. That doesn’t serve public interest at all.
      4. I’m not a member of the Tourism Board. I’m a member of Tourism.

      Thank you.

        • Mike what do you make of the vote of confidence from the Rastafarians who placed an advert thanking Shaun van Eck personally for everything Tourism has done for their community?

          Correct me if I am wrong but as I understand it your relationship with Shaun soured after he put your pet project on hold at a time you were financially disadvantaged. Do you object to the fact that he made a decision, no doubt motivated by and supported by his subordinates, on the grounds that there was no money available at the time to fund a project that was unlikely to produce any tangible results. Have I got it wrong?

          How can you fault him for that? Was he not doing his job? Was he not axing out dead wood and allocating the resources he had available to more productive applications?

    • Disappointing, Martin. You’ve known me for 3 and a half years so you know that i don’t shirk things. You also stay around the corner from me so my door is open to you almost anytime. You’re also a subscriber so if you read the blogs you will know that i’ve being open on this topic. And, in response to Conrad, i’ve added a link to the latest blog that covered this (one which you did read).

      What does look bad is when people don’t question the man who committed the crimes but instead distract from the bigger picture with innuendo. It becomes an agenda to disqualify me but the fact is that nothing can disqualify Shaun van Eck’s bad actions which were opposed by 100% of the Tourism Board and judged by an independent who found in their favour.

      I’m all for people approaching this from all angles but without them analyzing Shaun’s actions they can only be considered bias. These comments don’t just take a dig at me. They deflect from Shaun so that they are instead support of him. You’re a journalist so i challenge you paint the whole picture and publish it, standing by your opinion of all in this matter. Don’t be tempted by eloquence. Write what your gut says and reason it.

  5. I’m with Conrad. Could you explain in, say, 150 words why you have set about doing your best (which seems vindictive) to beat up Shaun? Also, would you care to reply to the rumors that say you’re working for Greg Vogt and his employers, the Knysna Elephant Park? This information would substantially reflect on your impartiality here, Mike.

    Personally, I think you’re being anything but balanced in your reporting, and I don’t like it

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • As said, in different words to ‘Conrad’, the more interesting issue of your comments is the knives out for me whilst you don’t address the gross misconduct Shaun is charged with. It’s a blatant disregard. It comes across as bias support of him. It doesn’t matter how detailed i make my responses, you will only keep up the attack…but i will respond one last time.

      You talk about “balanced reporting” and “impartiality” but your comments are anything but that. You have your Tourism Week blog and a huge newsletter base. Put your thoughts into action there. And, if you do, i can only hope that you also deal with Shaun van Eck. And maybe then i’ll pop over and comment by you…

      I’ve replied extensively on my reasoning many times and there’s a link in a comment to Conrad where it’s explained even further.

      Of course i’ve dealt with Vogt. There’s no CEO and he’s the Chairman of the Board. I’m sure that i’m just one of many that that has to deal with him. I showed the Elephant Park how to build a website so that they would save on costs as they will then be building more for their projects. That’s simple business and me continuing my goal to empower Knysna on the internet. No secret there. It’s one of my main causes. When they launch their site, as i do with all, i’ll announce it. I only met Greg Vogt afterwards, for the first time, at the special meeting for Tourism members that was called recently. I’ve long criticized the Board, including mentioning Greg Vogt’s name many times on my blog. But now that he became chair, and made an effort to fulfill his role, i will give him credit. Only time will tell where we will all stand. The dust needs to settle. I’ve in fact never been to the Elephant Park before but, if they will consider it, as i hope all do, i would love to add them to Love Knysna. I welcome relationships so if one is ever offered, of course i would consider it. They are one of the few icons in Knysna. I’d be irresponsible if i didn’t. Similarly, if Featherbed extended their hand for the first time (they also have a member on the Board, one who i consider to be against me), i would accept it. As for Tourism, in respect to Love Knysna, which obviously has a tourism angle (and i probably put out more blogs than Tourism this past year), i’d hope that they give me fair consideration in the future. Tourism is bigger than Shaun van Eck or Greg Vogt. I’ve always said that i wanted to deal with Tourism but not with Shaun as the CEO.

      If bridges can be mended, i’ll definitely throw in my share of bricks and cement. Why wouldn’t i? I have a vision for Knysna and i need as many people on board as possible so as to give it more chance at success. Knysna is my cause, passion and love.

  6. There was no conciliation between Shaun van Eck and the Knysna Tourism Board at their meeting on Dec 18. The next step is to set a date for a CCMA case (probably next year in Feb or March 2013).

  7. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the insightful blog. Just a few questions:
    I fail to comprehend how it is even possible that R2 million surplus can be used up without the Board being aware of when and where it was spent, irrespective of who the CEO is? Surely a board member is part of the finance subcommittee? Who are the signatories for Knysna Tourism? Surely one should be a board member? Where can one access Knysna Touism annual and bi-annual reports? (I do not mean the reporting by the municipal structure). Where is the strategic plan for Knysna Tourism? Is it a public document? As the public, I know you will agree, we have the right to “public participation”. It is essential for transparency for us to access these documents and any organisation that values the input from ALL stakeholders whether they are in agreement or not should allow this access to hold themselves accountable for the public funds they spend. The PFMA (Public Finance Management Act) will shed some light as to accountability and reporting. I am new to Knysna and have been here a year and have heard complaints from various people about the lagging economy . Tourism is a huge player in addressing the plight of both business and the overall community of Knysna (is there such a thing considering the huge divide?). This is the responsibility of all who reside here and not only of those in business or tourism and municipal structures. While it is necessary that we challenge those with the “perceived” power to make changes to ensure that they remain transparent and accountable, it is also necessary for us to consider what we are doing to contribute to that change. Do we simply complain or do we offer solutions? Have we become so apathetic? Are we so stuck in our own little worlds of entitlement, that we fail to see that if it effects one, it effects us all. While we fail to see the bigger picture around the issues of funding and its allocation, we will continue to look past the perpetual lip service (supported by the media) of those who make their living out of “politics”. Integrity, trust and communication. If you have those, then I believe, you have a winning formula to make real change. Irrespective of who agrees with you or not, Mike, continue with what you are doing. I read your blog before making the decision to move to Knysna. It did not paint a pretty picture, but it was oddly comforting knowing that the picture you paint is not unique to Knysna, but what is, is the fact that here is someone willing to stick their neck out, to be courageous, to take a stand, willing to challenge, to argue for all of us.

    • It is shocking and of course there should have been oversight, especially since i first asked the DA for Tourism’s budget 20 months ago. Several people must take blame (but that does not absolve Shaun of his terrible actions). Note that i contacted the DA last week and my request for a meeting was declined.

      As for the strategic plan, there isn’t one. It was Shaun’s manadate and, apparently, each time he was suppose to present it to the current Board, he came up with an excuse. Yes, they should never have accepted the excuses but also understand that Shaun bamboozled a lot of people…me, the Board, public etc. At least the Board got on top of things now. And keep in mind that the previous Board tried to get rid of him too. Now, for the first time, a system is being put into place. Until Shaun, it had never been glaringly needed.

      We lived in a world of credit and fake business. The adjustment may be painful but we are returning to normality. Business will lag when compared to the boom period. Definition debates aside, Tourism will always be a major factor in our little economy – we are a tourist town. Tourism getting it right, from plans to oversight controls, is paramount. Tourism good practice needs to be a leader for our town.

      Apathy is the greatest threat to us all. It has allowed a challenging South Africa to become an often scary one. The future is all of ours so it makes no sense not to work together in the present.

      I have consistently tried to address the divide. Speaking and blogging about it was important to me because it’s a topic that people in town don’t like talking about. On Friday, i bumped into a lass who was complaining about Knysna and there being nothing to do so i asked her if she’d been to Judah Square. “Never!” She answered. “That’d be scary.” And thus, her misconception had ruled her out of knowing 85% of Knysna.

      I have composed related project ideas. Tourism was initially suppose to be involved (in fact, part of the fallout between Shaun and me was his failed promises regarding them). I have now sent them to Tourism again and one of the local schools. The goal is to mix cultures, educate kids and boost tourism. I’ll share more details when i’ve got money to spare (and build the Love Knysna Projects website). When it starts, hopefully you’ll consider being a volunteer:)

      Thanks for the compliment. They are exceedingly rare in public.

      Subscribe to http://www.loveknysna.com so you also get the good news.

      PS: Sorry for slow response. I wasn’t online.

  8. Let’s look at the actions of the board, too: why didn’t it take corrective action in any month in which it failed to receive management or financial report? Why did the board not act immediately? Was it incompetent to do so? Why did it leave things so late? Why does Shaun’s accusation that the previous chairman was disinterested and absent not receive more attention in this enquiry? Why did Shaun’s relationship with Greg Vogt sour? Has Greg got a history here? What is it?

    • As i said above, and through varying versions previously, “Undoubtedly, Shaun van Eck screwed Knysna but he is not the only one deserving blame – the Tourism Board, local media (especially the Knysna-Plett Herald), Knysna Municipality and the DA have questions to answer too.”

      I absolutely agree that we need more answers.

      I approached the Mayor Deputy Mayor and a Councillor more than a year ago. If they’d started an inquiry then, as a well as installed the check and balance they’d promised, we’d not be in this situation. I’d also approached the Corporate Services Manager (who received a monthly breakdown). He was willing to chat but then communication with his office was shut down (all his emails were being sent and vetted through the now Municipal Manager). I even protested my dissatisfaction to Alan Winde and Helen Zille who did nothing. If you recall some of my earlier blogs, i was regularly critical of the Tourism Board, including Greg Vogt but note that he wasn’t on the Financial Committee until middle of this year and, apparently, started asking questions immediately.

      Note that this morning i sent an invitation for a chat to Deputy Mayor Michelle Wasserman and Councillor Esme Edge. I have requested the same, separately, from Greg Vogt.

      Could there be politics involved? That wouldn’t surprise me as politics stinks up many corners and crannies of Knysna BUT that doesn’t remove the severity of Shaun van Eck’s bad actions and it’s consequences for Knysna.

      Your frustration and questions are are one side of the fence. Don’t you have questions for Shaun…or any anger at, the very least, his irresponsibility? Do you have a position on credit being given to Lightleys, the R2 million surplus being used up, the staff member trip to Jamaica, Shaun’s lack of contracts and financial reports etc.

      There is so much more than this but unfortunately most will only talk to me off the record. I’m hoping that, now that the charges have been made public, more will find the courage to come forward.

  9. Mike, this is getting tiresome. Would you please now publish exactly why you have a personal vendetta against Shaun? I suspect it’s because he might have failed to pay you for something you did for the company, or that he withdrew funding for a project for which you thought were to have been paid. There is clearly a personal agenda here, and one would like to know why you are pursuing the man so relentlessly. One would like to make an informed opinion.

    You say you are only interested in the greater good of Knysna, but the highly personal and apparently vindictive manner in which you have been conducting this ‘investigation’ of yours is doing Knysna no good what so ever. I’m not saying anything needs to be hidden – exactly the opposite – which is exactly why I feel I must insist you publish a full account of your dealings with Shaun up to the point where you started to go sour on him.

    You’re making this whole thing smell.

    • I have great respect for the tourist news you issue so i find your comment disappointing. I have discussed the Shaun van Eck issue with you personally several times. I’ve also blogged much in detail. All you have to do is read. Thereafter, if you want to be critical, i’ll welcome it.

      As for today’s blog, the charges are not only extremely relevant to Tourism members but the Knysna public too. Why are you reserving your frustration for me rather than directing some of it at Shaun van Eck’s financial mismanagement of one of the most important pillars of our community – tourism?

      • Martin asked an interesting question which I don’t you have answered. Do you have a personal agenda? Shaun van Eck has made mistakes. No arguments there. But what I do not understand is why it’s getting so much attention. What was the background to your relationship? Is this personal vendetta?

        • I never avoided. I said read my blogs. I am honest therein. I learned Shaun’s true nature when he screwed me over. That doesn’t make it dismissive. That set me on a path to asking many questions and discovering how inadequate our local government is. This is personal but not in the negative way that commentators, who never address the facts, try make it come across. It’s a loaded accusation which deflects from the real issue which is Shaun van Eck screwing Knysna. I don’t use that verb lightly. By all means, question me but if you research what’s going on, and were fair, there’s no way you wouldn’t be outraged at Shaun. Saying he made mistakes belittles the problem.

          • Mike you say an awful lot which makes it very difficult to get to the source of it all. I am still not clear what it was that you were doing nor what Shaun was supposed to have done, to have turned what apparantly was a personal friendship into a war of attrition.

            I think the one point I would like to make here is that it is the current board that has called Shaun to account. Not you. You have made little or no contribution. If anything your emotional out bursts have more than likely complicated matters, if they have had any impact whatsoever.

            I would also like to point out that Shaun still has a lot to be proud of and is respected by many for all the stuff he is good at. I personally do not believe he is a good CEO. But he has built a career and a reputation on the strength of his achievements and his personal commitments. Can you claim the same? What gives you the right to throw those stones? And that is why I would like to know what it was, that tipped you over the edge?

          • Conrad, have a look at http://www.knysnakeep.org/reasons-to-dismiss-knysna-tourisms-ceo. That should hopefully sum the “personal” side up for you.

            For 20 months i’ve believed there was something wrong with the management of Knysna Tourism and have sought the budget, which was my right as a tourism member, but was constantly refused. People with nothing to hide do not hide! That made me dig more. My main role in this affair is that i was the only person to be public about this and i kept that story alive the whole time. Transparency and truth are worthy goals. Society needs check and balance. This blog performed its part.

            I don’t mind being questioned but i’m suspicious when i’m question negatively by someone who casts a positive light on Shaun. Shaun did wrong in a big way. Why not show your outrage at that?

            Of course, tone can never be appropriately decided in a comment. If you are a Tourism member, provide your name and your business, you are welcome to come meet me and have a chat. Disagreement is always allowed so long as there’s reason on both sides. The result, however, should always hope to improve Knysna.

          • I am neither a member of Knysna Tourism nor a friend of Shaun’s. But I think most people agree that Shaun was not a good CEO. This is why he was challenged and why he was removed from the post he had been appointed to. Disorganised, full of it, stubborn, misguided and more, yes. But he does also have an equally long list good points and no one I have spoken to has ever questioned his morality or accused him of corruption. So I think we need to recognise that he is paying the price for his mistakes and that we should try to keep things in perspective.

            From what I have read in your previous posts Shaun turned from friend to foe after he put your project on hold. Is that correct? As I read it, he made the point that there were a lot of questions about the viability of the programme you were running. How successful were the events you have organised in Knysna? How much scope was there for the people taking part in the sort of workshops you had organised, to apply what you were showing them and to earn a living from what they were learning?

            I think something that you need to take time off to reflect on, is that irrespective of whether your vendetta is justified or not, you appear to have insulted and alienated an awful lot of people. All you appear to have achieved is to close as many doors as possible. I don’t think Shaun is the only one guilty of gross errors of judgement.

          • No but it did start me questioning his modus operandi. It turned out that i was only one of many he reneged his word on and never signed contracts with. The next step was getting the budget in order to find out how money was being managed and spent. The budget being kept secret when it should have been open was a smelly fish. I pursued Shaun because i believed (and still do) that Knysna would be better off without him. The fact is that if my requests to the Board and Mayor had been met, as was promised, they would have realized much earlier that a check and balance was severely needed. Knysna Tourism would be infinitely better off if they had. You do not give credit. You only condemn.

            No matter what i say, you will continue to lessen Shaun’s “errors” and question me. You disregard the seriousness of his gross misconduct. Yet it was Shaun who was in a leadership position that he failed miserably at. I believed that he should not be in that position and pursued such. At the onset, i was totally aware that i was to break eggs and rack up an enemy list. To that end, i pulled out of an event so that they would not be tarred with the same brush. I then told my volunteers my next course of action and said i’d understand if they opted out (as there businesses would be affected). My pursuit of Shaun did cost me financially but i have no regrets because i don’t believe in letting bad people get away with it because they will only keep damaging.

            I’ll undoubtedly still meet sour grapes but the fact is that this blog is only part of what i do. There are more doors open now than ever and i hope to announce more good news next month.

            We obviously disagree so there’s no point in us keeping up this comment thread but i do suggest, as i did to Martin, that you compose a response to the charges in the blog above. Criticizing me anonymously is easy but you are way off topic. Respond to the real issue. Defend Shaun’s charges if you must but supply reason why.

          • The last Action Ads of the year carried a vote of thanks to Shaun from some of the members of the local Rastafarian community. And given the circumstances I would goes as far to say that is an action that takes moral courage and something Shaun can be proud of. It speaks volumes.

            The point that you are getting wrong is that Shaun ran Tourism as if it were his own business and for one reason or another he made a hash of it. And please bear in mind that an annual budget of five million ranks as a small business where the Receiver offers incentives to budding entrepreneurs to clamber over the hump and become tax relevant. So I don’t quite understand the point being made in your featured comment calling for criminal charges to be laid against Shaun. Do you not think that you are over doing it? What is the basis for criminal charges? Incompetence, arrogance and stupidity are not crimes. If they were Shaun would find himself in the company of some very odd and not very interesting bed fellows.

            There is always the need to keep things in perspective and you are allowing your personal interests to cloud your objectivity in this matter.

            1. We’re unfortunately not reaching consensus or adding to the blog so our thread battles to have purpose. Not an indictment. I’m just disappointed that it hasn’t and i don’t have time to keep throwing the ball backwards and forwards. It must have direction. So, forgive me, but definitely last time i’m responding. Note that i do want input and devil’s advocates so i welcome your opinions as this matter progresses or on other topics.
            2. There is much more to this story but as Knysna so often, and sadly does, those with information are more likely to speak off the record which doesn’t help me deliver the news. However, i do expect more info to surface as time goes by. Secondly, the reason why we have as much public information as we do is partly because we put pressure on the Tourism Board to deliver. That pressure must continue to be applied. You and Martin can be a productive part of it. Push for more details of Shaun’s ‘misadventures’ so that you understand more. And, to those who are Tourism members, ensure that the best check and balance system is installed at Knysna Tourism. All of you, as taxpayers, must put pressure on local government to perform. They play a huge part in this mess. R5million (although i believe it was R7million) may be small business but it is still a helluva lot of money in our small town. Hell, our roads budget was short more than that so these amounts have to be taken seriously.
            3. I’ve said several times that you can never make everyone happy. A leadership role in these tough times is a supreme challenge. I admire those who take on a position…but only if they walk the walk. Shaun did not. There is a level of severity where “incompetence, arrogance and stupidity” are crimes. And i consider hiding spending from the Board, and being uncooperative, as crimes too. Cronyism, the bane of our government, is as much of a crime as theft. In that respect, at the very least, i do consider Shaun van Eck to be a criminal.

            Get involved. Public dialogue is important but by no means is it a substitute for action.

          • My last post did not work. Have I worn out my welcome? Or did I hit the wrong button?

          • hear hear ! Why are these people still backing Shaun up? He wasted our money, and lived the good life off it. When you first started writing about Shaun I also thought ” wow- Mike has a serious vendetta” but since ShaunVan Eck has been found guilty of GRoss misconduct, Gross mismanagement, and all that other GROSS stuff, your viewpoints and actions have been vindicated. You smelled a rat and hunted it down. I am grateful to you for that. Please keep it up.

          • The people with compliments never want to get involved publicly. Wherever i go into town, i’m likely to meet nice people and be welcomed warmly by shop owners and passerby’s. If i didn’t, pursuing the rough stuff wouldn’t be worth it. Quite often, i have fantastic conversations but, sadly and invariably, they won’t put their name to information they share or simply give a vote of support in the comment section. So thank you for yours!

            I welcome constructive debate but unfortunately, far too often, the naysayers yell anger that has nothing to do with the topic but instead pursue a ‘hidden’ agenda. When they’re anonymous, it’s practical to think that they are either the target of my criticism (or a friend or benefactor of him or her).

            I will expose some over the next 2 weeks. I started with KPH. There’s more to come.

  10. I think KT should consider pressing for criminal charges. I have seen people go to prison for lesser “mismanagement”.
    If not, this guy will just move on to another institution and cause mayhem. It’s a pity local media like Algoa FM is playing this thing down. His influence on his friends there does not go unnoticed.

    • If the rumour mill has any truth (and i think that it does), then there is more that Shaun can be accused of. I think the Tourism Board aimed for the biggies and the ‘easiest’ to make into a solid case. Cronyism and misconduct are not easily converted into criminal charges even if they are criminal…but i agree with you and hope that they do pursue such. To often, in SA, it’s become the norm to make secret deals that let criminals walk at the expense of the public. If you don’t stop bad people, then you are responsible for helping them hurt others. One rumour that may be relevant is that he left PE tourism under a cloud too. If so, we inherited their problem because they never had the kahonies to do the right thing.

    • As for the media, they’ve been a disgrace. I approached many with queries a long time ago. I assume that income from Tourism adverts was more important to them than journalism…and, in at least one case, i believe that a reporter shielded him. But some have started to come around e.g. this week’s edition of The Edge posed some of the big queries.

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