The Knysna Ratepayers’ Association (KRA) will sue ex-Acting Municipal Manager Dr Michele Gratz and ex-DA Councillor Peter Myers.
THE WAR FOR KNYSNA GETS ANOTHER BATTLEGROUND
“All propaganda has to be popular, and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.” – Adolf Hitler
Part of this relates to the attempted, illegal takeover of Knysna, and the propaganda campaign I exposed one month ago. The schemers needed to discredit the KRA which they knew would stand against them.
Peter Myers, however, may be a simple case of attempted revenge against his former KRA allies who refused to support his successful but illegal campaign to have director’s salaries increased 20% (one was earning over R1.4m annually). That was rescinded this year but there has been no news of the monies being paid back.
More may face legal action but its unclear yet whether that will by the KRA or only by Committee Member Susan Campbell, in her personal capacity.
THE PLOTTERS & THE PROPERTY DEVELOPERS
“Plot: a secret plan for accomplishing a usually evil or unlawful end.” – Merriam Webster Dictionary
Dr Michele Gratz, the DA and the Western Cape Government plotted to overthrow the government of Knysna. They exaggerated problems into a crisis so that the process of administration could be used as a weapon against the town.
In conflict of interest, Gratz would have been rewarded with the role of Administrator, which would have lasted longer than her temporary managerial contract, and likely paid more. The DA, lead by Michelle Wasserman, would’ve pretended they weren’t involved in the more than 9 years of corruption that had played the biggest part in bringing Knysna to its knees. Instead, they’d probably have claimed victory for cleaning Knysna, which would’ve been a massively free advert towards them trying to win the 2021 local elections.
In 2016, the DA had to bribe an ex-ANC member to become their Independent coalition partner. It worked until he threatened a citizen, interfered with a tender, and had an ANC councillor assassinated. It’s safe to assume that the DA want outright control this time, to better control the false image they project.
The disturbing rumour is that the DA and Western Cape Government have secretly team up with property developers to help achieve this result. The last time that happened was with the ISDF tender wherein they tried to sell Knysna’s 30-year future. Those property folk deserve their own article so I won’t deviate from today’s KRA message except to say that:
(1) The local DA is broke, and likely needs those benefactors to assist their electioneering coffers.
(2) Some of those developers and their friends have a lot to lose regarding fraud that may amount to over one hundred million rand.
IN KNYSNA, ALL ANGELS ARE DEAD
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” – Laini Taylor
The Knysna Ratepayers’ Association (KRA) aren’t angels! Peter Myer’s is a devil!! And, once upon a time, they were best friends!!!
That resulting deception doesn’t excuse taxpayers who’ve been, far too often, victims of their own foolishness. After so many years of being lied too, many still prefer to be lied too, and there will always be wannabees and cronies for the cliques who think they’re royalty.
Unlike the unscrupulous Myers, Gratz and the property developers related to this story (cause not all are bad!), the KRA has good attributes. As much as they disappoint, I acknowledge the good work they’ve done. I fought hard against last month’s propaganda against them because I value truth, and hope that one day citizens will use it to stand up for themselves. More immediately, the plotters had to be stopped.
Despite it being long overdue, I’m glad that Susan Campbell and her KRA gang are fighting back. It’s in moments like this, we citizens gain more knowledge. We learn more when there’s conflict… which begins with this statement by the Knysna Ratepayers’ Association (KRA).
Note that the headers are my own invention, and the extra info in brackets mine too.
THE KNYSNA RATEPAYERS’ ASSOCIATION DEFENDS ITSELF AGAINST ATTACK
“When Dr Michele Gratz arrived in February, following the suspension of Dr Sitembele Vatala, we had full confidence that the Acting Municipal Manager would build on her excellent track record in Mossel Bay and return Knysna to a path of financial sustainability and good governance.
Dr Gratz was already known to one of our committee members, Susan Campbell. In 2019, at the request of Dr Gratz, Ms Campbell investigated the management of the Garden Route SPCA. The investigation, involving the interview of more than 40 witnesses, was conducted free of charge.
While Dr Gratz was considering whether to accept the position of Acting MM of Knysna, she asked Ms Campbell to come to her house. Dr Gratz and Ms Campbell had a frank and detailed discussion about the situation in Knysna. The discussion included Ms Campbell’s opinion relating to officials she considered to pose a risk to the Knysna Municipality, as well as the troubling protection of certain officials by some of the politicians.
Thereafter Dr Gratz and Ms Campbell had ongoing contact via telephone and Whatsapp, often initiated by Dr Gratz, inter alia seeking information about politicians and officials. During this interaction, Ms Campbell raised the issue of the CFO [Mbulelo Memani] and a director’s involvement in the conduct that resulted in a complaint KRA had submitted against Dr Vatala.
The complaint related to the alleged fraudulent removal of Municipal properties to the value of more than R60 million, from Knysna’s Annual Financial Statements, as contingent assets. The properties, including Swartvlei Caravan Park and Walker’s Point, Buffalo Bay, were the subject of a dispute between Knysna and Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM).
In August 2018, the GRDM had advertised the properties for development proposals and the removal of the properties from Knysna’s books would pave the way for GRDM to develop them. During this entire period, the relationship between Ms Campbell and Dr Gratz was one of mutual respect. In early May, it came to Ms Campbell’s attention that Dr Gratz’s attitude to her had changed dramatically.
Councillor Myers informed Ms Campbell that Dr Gratz had complained to him that Ms Campbell had met with Mr Graham Paulse from the Provincial Government, about complaints against the CFO, and that this was adding to her workload. Ms Campbell, who last met with Mr Paulse in 2014, thereafter had a telephonic conversation with Dr Gratz to explain this. In the ensuing conversation, the animosity from Dr Gratz was palpable.
In early May, Councillor Myers advised Ms Campbell that Dr Gratz wanted to dismiss the Director of Planning [Marlene Boyce]. Dr Gratz was also complaining about an official [probably Avitha Jagaysor, Senior Manager Financial Management Services] who had delivered complaints about the CFO to the suspended MM, Dr Vatala.
Dr Gratz thereafter brought an item before Council where the Director of Planning and Ms Campbell were omitted from the Knysna Planning Tribunal. The public could neither attend nor follow the meeting electronically. No reasons were given for the omissions and the process that was followed was neither transparent nor just. KRA requested reasons and information relating to the process, but has received no response.
KRA has since established that Dr Gratz’s conduct relating to Ms Campbell and the Director of Planning has been influenced by certain property developers, a planner and the owner of a Thesen Islands property. During 2019, KRA delivered several complaints against an [planning department municipal] official. One of the complaints related to the unlawful approval of building plans for a building on Thesen Islands, which is currently the subject of a High Court review application brought by the Home Owner’s Association.
The Municipality has agreed to abide by the decision of the court and has tendered a contribution towards the costs [!].
During May 2020, KRA was informed by a councillor that Dr Gratz intended to terminate the disciplinary proceedings against the [planning department] official. As we had no information about the status of the disciplinary proceedings, and were concerned that Dr Gratz might not be aware of the seriousness of the allegations against the official, we sent Dr Gratz a copy of the complaint and asked her about its status. We have yet to receive a response to any request or communication we have sent to Dr Gratz.
When it became clear that the CFO was not being investigated for his role in the matters that gave rise to our complaints against Dr Vatala, KRA delivered four complaints against him, including the complaint relating to the properties. Within minutes of our complaint being delivered, Ms Campbell, who prepared the complaint, received extremely insulting Whatsapp messages from Councillor Myers. Councillor Myers also contacted another committee member about the matter. A Municipal Director [likely Marlene Boyce again] was also contacted by Councillor Myers, who asked her to try to persuade Ms Campbell to withdraw the complaint.
The day before the KRA complaint was intended to serve before the Knysna Council, we received a letter from the Deputy Mayor, advising us that the complaint was defective. As previous complaints which had been submitted in the same format were attended to by the Knysna Municipality, we complained to politicians about this.
During the meeting of 28 May, Council resolved that the KRA complaint would be entertained at the next meeting.
At the end of the meeting, Dr Gratz, the CFO and Councillor Myers resigned.
[The KRA left out Myer’s nonsense resignation ‘explanation’]
In her resignation speech, Dr Gratz asked for Knysna to be placed under administration and made several false and defamatory allegations, which were clearly aimed at Ms Campbell and the members of the KRA committee.
Dr Gratz alleged that one of our members had contacted the Deputy Mayor [Aubrey Tsengwa] the previous day and said that “Gratz must go”. That allegation is patently false and could not be confirmed by the Deputy Mayor when we contacted him about this.
As a result of these defamatory allegations, some of our committee members have been subjected to insults and defamation on social media and elsewhere. We intend to consult an attorney with a view to taking legal action against Dr Gratz and others who have defamed us.
Dr Gratz will have the onus to prove that the damaging allegations she made against us are true.
On the evening of her resignation, Dr Gratz, who expressed the desire that it should be her last working day, requested the CFO stay on until the end of July. The CFO has yet to formally resign.
Immediately after Dr Gratz resigned, an orchestrated campaign to request Premier Alan Winde to appoint Dr Gratz as administrator of Knysna kicked off. Four days after her resignation speech, the DBSA threatened to withhold a loan, and Dr Gratz agreed to stay on, but only as administrator with the full executive powers of council.
By Thursday, the 4th of June, Dr Gratz brought an item to Council requesting Council agree to have her appointed as administrator for six months with the full executive powers of Council. The report was from Dr Gratz, yet the recommendation was purportedly from the Deputy Mayor. We have been informed that the Deputy Mayor has denied that he made the recommendation.
The blatant conflict of interest in Dr Gratz submitting a report and requesting Council to appoint her for six months, to a position in which she would have almost no accountability to the Knysna Council, and ultimately to the people who elected members to represent them to the Knysna Council, seems to have escaped all of those who were signing the petition.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the coalition between the ANC and COPE appointed Dr Scheepers as Acting Municipal Manager. Our [town’s] budget has since been approved and the DBSA loan is no longer an issue.
KRA looks forward to working with Dr Scheepers for the benefit of Knysna.
VICTIMISATION OF ALLEGED WHISTLEBLOWERS
Dr Michele Gratz’s protection of CFO [Mbulelo Memani] continued until the bitter end.
The CFO has falsely accused a Municipal official and a director [presumably Marlene Boyce again] of being the whistleblowers in connection with our complaint against him. Two days before her departure, Dr Gratz suspended the relevant official for allegedly leaking classified information. We have since been informed that Dr Scheepers has uplifted the patently unlawful suspension and we commend him for his swift action to reverse the unlawful conduct of Dr Gratz.
Please visit our Facebook page for follow-up news on this subject.”
Knysna Ratepayers Association
The KRA hasn’t had an official chairperson for a long time, and this statement was unsigned. At last count, the KRA Committee comprised Chris Gould, Sam Abrahams Lurie, Rex Hart, Mark Williams, Renette Kumm, Attorney Susan Campbell, and Attorney Dalene Willemse (yes, ex-Mayor Mark Willemse’s wife, so you’re encouraged to read more into that regarding the bigger picture). Additionally, Richard Thorpe somehow exists despite supporting Myers against the KRA.
The KRA deserves an article aiming questions at them… but that doesn’t detract from this positive development which, I believe, will help Knysna. You can contact them via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peter Myers, Michele Gratz, Michelle Breeze, Mbulelo Memani, Michelle Wasserman and related parties are encouraged to respond. Wasserman should include an explanation why the DA has blocked me, and why they do not accept complaints against DA corruption.
This is #Day 11 of my 100 Days of Activism against Corruption.