Hello, Dr Louis Scheepers, Acting Municipal Manager of Knysna.
Our teleconference was deliberately turned into a disaster by you and Mayor Elrick van Aswegen. It’s disappointing that you, like your predecessors, so quickly chose the side that’s been working against our town.
I send this email in the hope that you’re uncomfortable with your choice, and that your deployment by the ANC won’t get in the way of us being productive. I even selected a photo of you looking morally ambitious.
Secondly, I was motivated because you’ve shown some common sense. I told several people that your easiest victory was to stop the victimisation of staff.
Although the disciplinary process isn’t over, you returned Bryan Campher and Avitha Jagaysor to work. And Marlene Boyce’s reasons why she shouldn’t be suspended were accepted.
The bigger interpretation of what you’re made of will be for you to clear the air. Will you state that they were victimised and, if so, by who e.g. was it ex-Acting Municipal Manager Michele Gratz and CFO Mbulelo Memani? The matter cannot be forgotten because it happened during an attempt at hostile takeover of our town. It’s evidence towards that context and justice.
Maybe, one day, we’ll get to have a friendlier chat, and I’ll send you fun questions for loveknysna.com, but we’ve got an ongoing crisis on our hands, so I’m going to be blunt. Hopefully, you’ll consider me being more practical than offensive. If you choose the latter, let it be a sign of good character rather than arrogance.
Dr Louis Scheepers, let’s pretend we never had that first ugly conversation. Here’s to starting anew…
THIS IS ME
I’m only one person. I’m an anti-corruption citizen activist. I’m not a lobby group.
I’m only one source of information you need to assess to reach an understanding of our town, to differentiate between facts and lies. But I’m an important source. Until me, the greater Public didn’t have many clues as to what was happening behind the closed doors where their employees and representatives work.
My demands are based on my love for our town and that personally frustrating part of me that cannot let injustice go. This is also about my survival, because the crooks have made my life difficult. Which side you choose is personal to me.
You’re talking to me as a citizen and an activist, which is legal and, considering the information I’ve given you, necessary.
I’m taking it step by step, so tell me if you agree with me so far?
WHAT IS DR LOUIS SCHEEPERS MADE OF?
This conversation isn’t hidden, it’s happening because I sent you evidence you must consider in your role as the Manager of our town. I’m asking you to be forthright. Don’t use words from a politician’s holiday postcard. I need you sound like our Public official, and not another leaf blowing wherever the political wind goes which, too often, may be the guarantee of that big monthly pay cheque.
Summarise your impression of Knysna and tell me what your priorities are regarding corruption. Don’t, again, tell me that nonsense that you’re you won’t do anything yourself but are ‘helping me’ by advising me to go to the police. You’re not my parental figure, you’re the man in charge of a billion-rand budget… and the thieves.
Speak in a manner that’s clear that you should be taken seriously. That should include the legal onus upon you when dealing with citizen complaints and encountering crime.
Most of the issues I’ve already presented to you are of great interest to our town. For you to have tried to belittle me by pretending my questions about the Knysna Fire are only about me and not our town was illogical, and of mean intention.
I’m not going to address the details of every matter which you and the Public know. Instead, I’ll be brief in asking you to assess the following situation, and let your duty compel you into action.
TRANSPARENCY & COMMUNICATION
You need to be upfront and in the Public eye. Get our attention, the country’s if you must. The latter will help because, if you’re a good man, the baddies will come after you like they did me. The difference is that you know the system, have a big bank balance, and can use taxpayers’ cash to fight. If you’re unwilling to be counted, then you’re a coward or a crook. But as a hero, you’re useful.
Stop unnecessary secret meetings that are referred to as the ‘Green Pages’. At every possible moment, the servants and representatives of the Public must act in the open. No more bullshit about sub judice etc. Being honest about matters in the Public interest is the greatest law. And being open about charges against ex-Municipal Manager Grant Easton, but not about CFO Mbulelo Memani, shows bias which, again, is political.
Review PAIA requests for the period Melony Paulsen has been working for Corporate Services. Update your files, re-open old requests and fulfill your legal requirement to the South African Human Rights Commission.
Manager of Miscommunication Christopher Bezuidenhout is a permanent arse-creeper. He’s survived so long in so many positions because he does what he’s told. Unfortunately, some of his bosses have been crooks.
He previously and illegally allowed Mayor Eleanore Spies’s friend to take his position, whilst he illegally moved into the Mayor’s office. Then he lied about it. But when it was clear that she was on the losing faction, he became friends with her enemy, Councillor Peter Myers (and his friends).
He was in charge whilst propaganda was issued against me. He will not respond to serious matters on the Municipality’s Facebook page.
He exists to serve the politicians, not Knysna. He breeched ethics. Now, whilst we’re in crisis, he’s invisible. Like Gratz and Memani, he must go!
Additionally, rumours are constant that Bezuidenhout has many extended members of his family working for the Municipality. That may mean that they’re wonderful people believing in Public service, but it could also be abused.
Working for the Knysna Municipality is considered by many to be the holy grail. Even a lowly position can pay triple what the average worker earns. There needs to be an organogram of all staff who have family members as colleagues. We must ensure that no one has unfair advantage over their fellow citizens.
LOUIS, WHY ARE YOU INVISIBLE?
When you sat silent next to Mayor van Aswegen, during his inaugural speech, you looked subservient and incompetent. And, since then, you’ve been nowhere.
Do you agree that your main goals are financial stability, the eradication of corruption, to separate the Administration from the Council, and to create a positive working environment for municipal staff? And that all that falls under your role as servant to the Public?
If so, stop being as invisible as Bezuidenhout. Deliver a speech that’s heavy on detail. Put it on video and in print. Go on record so that you’re accountable to your words, and so we know that there’s more chance that you represent us.
Currently, the only corruption policy of the Knysna Municipality is to protect corruption unless it’s an opportunity to damage an enemy. This must change!
It’s been 25 days since I first sent you evidence. You haven’t acknowledged a single issue, but defended two. You haven’t even supplied me reference numbers.
How you handle corruption is the primary litmus test of your character.
In your statement, assure us that you will never let those who rob us go unpunished. They’ve every right to mount the best defense they can but it’s also well known that the consequence to Stalingrad defence is a dent in the taxpayers’ kitty. Consequently, those accused are warned that, from the beginning, they will be sued for costs, for the legal process and for the money they stole. Alternatively, if they know they’re guilty, they can admit it, pay a fine and resign without reference.
No crook gets to simply move to another town and get another Government job. Nothing gets hidden, everything is shown – the “why” of their resignation will be Public information. If they’re criminally charged with the SAPS, that’s separate to this process.
The second test is if you’re going to treat me differently. Instead of blocking me or harming me, will you instead state something along the lines of:
“Mike Hampton, an activist, has provided my office valuable information against corruption. We are engaging him meaningfully, adding our voice to ongoing processes such as COGTA. We will inform NCOP and the Office of the Public Protector that they were misled by the previous Government, and that we wish to set things straight, because it’s the right thing to do, and for the best health of Knysna. We encourage citizens to join us in standing against corruption. This is a new era. On behalf of the staff of the Knysna Municipality, I want you to know that we work for you!”
Hopefully you’ll be here long enough to fall in love with Knysna too, and understand that love cannot exist unless its supported through action.
Dr Louis Scheepers, who do you choose to be?
This is #Day 17 of my 100 Days of Activism against Corruption.