Knysna Fire Chief Clinton Manuel has been attempting to intimidate me, a victim of the Great Knysna Fire.
Consequently, i send this complaint to the Knysna Municipality and Knysna Council. I CC Parliament which is handling the Love Knysna Petition. I also CC Western Cape Local Government, the Office of the Public Protector, Knysna’s MP, the Premier’s Office, DA Leader’s Office and the DA Federal Executive.
Attention: Municipal Manager Kam Chetty, DA Mayor Eleanor Spies, DA Deputy Mayor Peter Myers, DA Speaker Georlene Wolmarans, ANC Councillor and ANC Regional Executive Committee Member Victor Malosi, ANC Chief Whip Titi Elizabeth Gombo, ACDP Councillor Shakespeare Arends, KUC Councillor Welcome Salaze, Independent Councillor Velile Waxa, COPE Councillor Elrick van Aswegen
CC: James Selfe, Mmusi Maimane, Geordin Hill-Lewis, Helen Zille, Anton Bredell, Allan Winde, Titus Mhlanga, Nkanyiso Mkhize
The leadership of the Knysna Fire Department is unhappy with me for submitting the complaint to you, Public Protector Gideon Landman and the National Council of Provinces regards their questionable history. That happened before the Great Knysna Fire but their unhappiness has likely increased whilst I’ve been presenting information to the Public about the Knysna Fire Department’s possible responsibility for the fire disaster.
That must be looked at within the far greater context of the corruption and maladministration I’ve exposed in our town, dirty actions and failure of duty that implicates the entire municipal and political leadership. That fire has spread so far as to implicate the National leadership of the Democratic Alliance (DA), meaning that I’ve more enemies and less chance of help.
In the Western Cape, the country of the DA, local government, provincial government, the Public Protector, the Courts, the Knysna SAPS, the Hawks and (especially disappointing) the Media, will not investigate my detailed documents let alone punish the wicked that are diminishing the lives of us citizens. Where people choose the side of political parties instead of right and wrong, it’s guaranteed that abuse will fatten. Personally, it makes it harder for me to find help and safety.
Although I hope that NCOP’s Select Committee of Petitions and Executive Undertakings rules in my favour on September 13, that would just mean it being passed onto the House of Parliament, another delay. The past 4 months have proven that I cannot rely on the Committee to keep me safe as they promised.
I live with the constant fear of being hurt; jailed, beaten or killed. I see it reflected in people I like, their fear that they will be hurt just for knowing me. That, alone, is proof that we don’t live in a democracy where us citizens have rights and the government works for us. Government works for corruption or/and is corruption itself.
My main recourse has been to ensure that there’s Public awareness of my situation and the evidence. Ask yourself how it’s possible that there hasn’t been government investigation into the almost 900,000 words on my website? Nevertheless, the more people who know, the safer I feel and the greater likelihood that if anything happens to me there’ll be clues for a brave detective to ‘follow.
What I report today may not, alone, seem as serious but is serious enough and must be treated in the context of all that has been said and the fact that people have been known to do crazy things when their livelihoods and careers are threatened. The fear of loss of power is as dangerous, if not more, than power itself. And I’ve learned that it’s better to be safe than sorry when dealing with alpha males, something I consider many firemen and policemen to be.
Please note that I’m a great supporter of our fire and rescue services and anyone else who puts themselves in danger to benefit us. My complaint isn’t generalisation but a condemnation of poor leadership that damages the profession. I’ve been approached by several firemen who are as unhappy with their bosses as I am. There have long been problems in the Knysna Fire Department, smouldering before Manuel arrived in 2015.
The awkward fact is that I cannot publicly tell you the start of this story. In a continually obstructed court case against me by a member of the Knysna Fire Department, I’ve had my rights infringed by being under a temporary restraining order for one year. That means that I cannot speak about it publicly, nor name the person involved. It’s unfortunate that I’m dealing with another Magistrate who doesn’t believe that matters of public importance trumps loose interpretations of the law. My right to a fair trial was also denied, from the start, by her boss.
However, the initial intimidation of me by Fire Chief Clinton Manuel happened in this courtroom, where the opposition is trying to prevent me from cross-examining him. It happened during recess on May 18 2017. Manuel approached me whilst I was alone.
I’m an activist who encounters many bad people and, owing to my questions and blogging, sometimes falls under threat. Through experience, I’m fairly good at judging behaviour.
Manuel didn’t threaten me with direct words but his repetition clearly carried subtext. Combined with his posture and facial expression, and his refusal to leave at my request, he was obviously hostile. He has much to lose if my allegations are investigated and proven true.
As I wouldn’t be able to prove what happened in that courtroom, his version versus mine, all I could do was report it to the Magistrate within a motion in that trial. That was 4 months ago. The Magistrate has yet to respond to it but may possibly do so on September 7. That’s tomorrow.
I’m not ready to tell my whole fire story but, out of necessity, here’s part of it.
On June 7 2017, the Great Knysna Fire flew towards us. I was in the last car to evacuate from Riverglades, a complex in the forest in the suburb of Kanonkop. I was in a neighbour’s car. There was barely space in the vehicle because of the possessions they were saving. A second woman sat on my lap. I’d been checking the houses and was battling for breath. I’d warned these neighbours first so was extremely fortunate to bump into them on their way out.
I was doing a second round, thinking that everyone was safe but that I was alone in the smoke and may die. In my rounds, I’d been near the river where there’d been no visibility or oxygen. My best way out wasn’t a way out. My asthma was giving me hardship and I was unsure if it would get me up our steep hill or whatever lay beyond that. There was no fear, more intellectual debate. I was calm, in doer mode not worry mode. Maybe the lack of oxygen played a part in my state of mind.
But I got that lift, we were under a fallen tree and out of the smoke into sunshine with a view of ‘bombed’ houses. Ironically, on the way out, the first person we saw was Fire Chief Clinton Manuel. He was standing alone in Welbedacht Lane, next to a fire ‘bakkie’. It was approximately 5pm.
Considering his previous intimidation of me, i immediately worried that my neighbours were about to ask for help from possibly the wrong person instead of the most appropriate for the job. That was confirmed when they stopped and he responded to them by looking at me and just saying, “Hampton”.
Fire Chief Clinton Manuel was approximately 1.5km from our complex. No houses had burnt down at that stage. 19 of the 25 would burn down, more if neighbouring homes are included. The house where the fire first arrived strangely remains standing. That cannot be be simply explained away by what is called “spotting”.
6 weeks later, on July 22, I went to Polvo Coffee Bar which is situated at 50 Main Road, behind Steers. Owing to the loss of my rented home and internet connection, I was forced to work on my laptop from restaurants. When I entered, Manuel was talking to James Fouche, the owner of Polvo. I would later realise that Manuel was there to be interviewed by Fouche for a book he was writing.
Manuel made an overbearing point of repeatedly saying hello to me despite me ignoring him because i believed their was malice behind his friendliness. I went to the other side of the counter, into the second room where I’d be out of sight of him.
After several minutes, Manuel approached me to stand right against the small table and hover over me. That he intentionally made his way to me despite my obvious unwillingness to interact with him must be noted.
Likely knowing Fouche could be witness, he continued his false friendliness. It’s was obvious from my continued lack of response that I didn’t want him there.
Manuel switched tactic, asking if he was threatening or intimidating. That was rhetorical because the only reason for him to ask is that my motion and queries to the Magistrate must have been inappropriately shared with him. It’s a further foundation to his intimidation of me that he chose to approach me instead of staying away as a sensible person would.
I gave up on my failed silence and repeatedly told him to leave me alone. He then said that it was me who wasn’t leaving him alone. That can only refer to my complaints to the Knysna Municipality and the related court case with his Fire Department. That further emphasises that his intention in approaching me was maliciousness.
When Manuel said, “You don’t leave me alone which is why I don’t leave you alone,” he made his harassment of me clear.
Manuel’s false position of friendliness was emphasised with: “If you write crap about me, be prepared that I’m going to confront you any time.”
He was obviously losing composure when he stated, “I’ve also got a history that you will never uncover.”
I responded, “We’ll meet in Court.” Manuel said, “No we won’t, we’ll meet in the street.” That could only be interpreted as threat.
Fouche had left the counter and walked to the lounge suite in the far corner opposite me. Manuel joined him and shot out, “That’s where the playing fields are levelled, on the street.”
Life was difficult before the fire. Now it’s more so because another person who is supposed to protect me is now another person I must fear.
I request that Fire Chief Clinton Manuel be suspended and investigated… but uncomfortably share author Stieg Larsson’s sentiment when he wrote, “Dear Government… I’m going to have a serious talk with you if I ever find anyone to talk to.”
This story is part of a much bigger story which can be read at ‘Helen Zille Won’t Respond: Knysna Fire & Intimidation Complaint’.
PS: Please give me one person to trust in our government, one person to turn to, one person to stand beside me… and a Public that isn’t too scared or selfish to do the same.