In case you don’t know my story and my fight with the Democratic Alliance, i offer this preface…
I’m the owner of www.KnysnaKeep.org and www.LoveKnysna.com. I alleged corruption and maladministration in Knysna. Thinking that the DA were the good guys, i reported it to them. Unfortunately, 4 years, 5 months and 1 day later, there has been no punishment for those involved. Instead, some have been promoted.
The problem, i believe, is that DA politicians were deeply involved and that the DA is more interested in its image than it is in justice. I consider it a cover-up, a monstrosity of injustice stretching up to Helen Zille.
I also believe that the DA’s boast about clean audits is a lie or, at the very least, an indication that the Auditor General’s office sets a standard so low that it damages honesty and the Western Cape.
To be expected, in our age of bias, racism and fake online profiles, some have hammered at me with nastiness, ignoring the facts presented in favour of willful ignorance and hidden agendas.
The wrongness of it all turned me into an activist, a role that has made me, loved or hated, one of the most well known figures in my town. It’s also made me a target. It made me loud as a shouted my disgust online at all involved, further justified (to me) by the fact that the DA and their cronies have been successfully suing me for defamation and harassment, knowing i do not have the resources to protect myself. Ironically, an online defamation campaign is being run against me, sometimes anonymous but with posts supported by some of the very people i’ve accused of damaging our town. All in all, i consider it a campaign to gag me, ever present as local elections approach (it’s a neck and neck race between the ANC and the DA, too close to call).
Personally, i am fearful for myself. I’ve witnessed and experienced bad things. Partly because of that, and because i promised my readers feedback, i post this blog today. I also do so in the hope that journalists and national government will smell the ill wind and investigate.
I’m used to being as brutally honest with my readers as possible but that’s extremely difficult considering recent judgements against me, the result of our leaders using the courts to try shut me up. I’m at a great disadvantage – our justice system is a tough place to experience without money and lawyers. I wish the playing field were levelled so that the result was untainted by my belief that money equals power and that one stands a better chance with a heavyweight lawyer than only good intention.
It is what it is, the DA guns are out for me.
Hopefully there are some of you seeking substantiated opinion, prepared to gain the court documents which are supposed to be public. I believe that they will be an eye-opener, especially, for example, where copious amounts of evidence for my defence were dismissed because of a technical detail regarding my affidavit’s format.
I will post what documents i can in the future but not before i have found money to pay for a legal opinion on my doing so.
If anything nastier were to ever befall me, plans have been made for all my files, not just the court ones, to be released anonymously. Until then, let me speak generally in this blog, giving you my perspective on what has been happening (and will likely continue happening to me).
This blog seems even more appropriate considering the Knysna-Plett Herald’s unfortunate article last week and the expected ‘crowd’ that commented on that (i will post details on some of them and their possible motives at a later date, and i’ll be laying charges against several this month). Note that the Knysna-Plett Herald has a lot to answer for too (i will be posting more about that as well – anyone who remembers the abrupt removal of an intended front page article on problems at Knysna Tourism, and the vanishing of the last editor, will have questions too – but let me first address the issue through the Press Ombudsman).
When i stood alone in court and wasn’t permitted to justify my actions, i realised, almost immediately, that i would lose the first defamation case against me. It was the beginning of a serious learning curve.
Let’s step back to the beginning…
I have been fighting to bring justice to a number of situations in Knysna where i believe that public money has been wasted due to maladministration. In some cases, i believe it’s criminal behaviour but have battled to find any agency in the Western Cape who will investigate appropriately. I appear to be blocked at the highest levels of provincial government.
It’s a bizarre situation that only makes sense to me if the DA is protecting its image and, consequently, its councillors. How clean their claimed “clean audits” has become highly questionable to me. It certainly has nothing to do with the transparency the DA promised us in their election campaign that won them power. It changed my opinion about the party from positive to critical (that hasn’t nothing to do with the ANC who, incidentally, i dislike too).
The situation that sparked my past 4 and a half years of activism was the usage of public money to fund the debt of Knysna Tourism which was the result of deliberate behaviour involving favouritism, lack of tenders, illegal loans etc. The public lost a fortune and no one was ever punished. Instead, some of those involved rose to positions of even greater responsibility.
At that stage, the plaintiff in this case was a Knysna politician and a Director on the Board of Knysna Tourism, her/his chief role there being oversight. I believe that all public positions should carry a high duty of responsibility. 4 years later, i still don’t have answers to the questions i’ve been asking of this person and their colleagues, (most importantly) a detailed budget that shows who exactly got what.
After the Magistrates’ Court allegedly denied her/his request for court action, the politician applied to the High Court for an emergency interim interdict and a standard interim interdict on different court dates, seeking the end of my blogging about her/him and the removal of past posts.
As my pro amico (work for free, get paid for win) legal counsel was unprepared, they suggested that both court dates get made into one in return for my not blogging about her/him until then. I did not like that at all as i believed it was giving into pressure tactics but if i never gave into the pressure of my counsel, i would lose them. I agreed. Further irony is that listening to my counsel would prove to be the last thing i should have done for my defense.
In High Court, an attorney is not allowed to represent you. Instead, they instruct an advocate to do so – this immediately and drastically increases legal fees which is why High Court is not a good place for the poor to be. However, i then considered myself lucky as i, at least, had pro amico representation in an Attorney and an Advocate.
That feeling of luckiness would prove to be very wrong.
The Attorney became unenrolled i.e. he was not allowed to practice until he paid R1.2-million he owed to other advocates for other High Court actions (interestingly, that he was broke was as the result of a political issue). He told me that he would sort that soon but, in the meanwhile, the instructing attorney would have to change to attorney #2.
Attorney #1 continued to give advice and would later return to deal with the advocate. I assumed he was re-enrolled but i’m now uncertain.
Attorney #1 was approached, according to him, with the offer of a monthly bribe for him and for me, paid via the government. I immediately turned it down. I cannot tell you more as Attorney #1 would not give me details before or after i turned it down. I can say that it directly related to politics. In no way do i suggest that the politician ‘suing’ me was involved. It just happened during the same time period (there were cases and charges against me at the same time).
On the court date, the politician’s counsel never appeared. Consequently, i was informed by the Advocate that the case was over and i could continue blogging.
Mysteriously, i was also told that my case file had gone missing, taken by a blonde woman. This has yet to be answered for – the Registrar, whose responsibility it is, will not explain or investigate. Furthermore, the Judge, when i met her at the next court appearance, reckoned it happens and was happy for the opposing counsel to provide a copy. I consider both reactions unacceptable. Court documents, like police dockets, have to be held in sanctuary – our justice system requires such.
- Attorney #2 never contacted me or responded to me!!! There has never been two-way communication.
- The Advocate incorrectly informed me that the case was over. Consequently, my next blogs and my ignorance of law would lead me on a path to contempt of Court.
- Neither Attorney #2 or the Advocate bothered to forward me the papers they were sent regards the proposed contempt of Court.
- Attorney #1 returned to advise (which now seems to have been illegal).
I had no choice but to dismiss my counsel and take the big step of representing myself… and learned another big lesson…
There are two defences in this type of case. The first is freedom of speech, a constitutional argument. The second is merit i.e. did i have cause to say what i said about the politician. The logical way forward is to argue both but the advocate representing me believed that the case was clear cut and that only the constitutional argument was necessary for a win.
It was immediately clear that that was the wrong course of action when the Judge repeatedly asked me questions so as to explain my actions. Every time i wanted to explain the most important items (regarding alleged maladministration, contraventions of the MFMA, Knysna Tourism, the ISDF, unbudgeted DA office upgrades etc.), I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO ANSWER BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT IN EVIDENCE owing to the absence of the initial merit argument i.e. if it isn’t in the initial papers, it cannot be added.
Without being allowed to explain and justify, i was hamstrung and realised that i would lose the case.
And so i did.
- The Judge has placed restriction on my blogging. I find it odd in that she prevents me from posting a photo of the politician forever. It’s a ruling as if she can predict future actions (no one can). I don’t know yet if i can replace a photo with a humorous icon so have simply left it out. Furthermore, i wonder if there has ever been such a ruling regards a public figure in the history of our court system? Try imagine Zuma without Zapiro.
- I’ve been ordered to pay costs, the latter a supreme irony in that i couldn’t afford representation for myself and i’m now liable for the opposition’s costs which i expect to be very high. The only consolation is that i’m broke with almost nothing left in my life.
- I was given a 60 days suspended sentence for 3 years. That appears extraordinary to me. Nevertheless, although i’m being careful to be factual and no way defamatory, it wouldn’t surprise me if opposition lawyers tried to imprison me because of this blog or my comment to the newspaper last week.
I have disagreement with some of the Judge’s points that led her to judgement. It was obvious that i needed to appeal. The challenge was to find pro bono or pro amico representation in a short period of time lest i be standing their unrepresented again. I thought that an agency defending freedom of expression was going to but they got backlogged and were unable to.
The many cases against me have been a baptism of fire. Everytime i lose, i’m educated a bit more time. Whether i will be able to keep standing, is a question only time can answer. I have to because my cases are still to be presented… and mine are far more damning.
Let’s me also be very clear:
- The politician did not have to take the stand.
- The politician won a defamation case because my ex-Advocate did not submit evidence i could use to defend myself.
- The politician did not win or lose with regards any of the major issues i have presented in my blogs e.g. Knysna Tourism (that is not what the case, or any of the other cases, have been about).
I will operate within the bounds of the ruling but it is essential that public figures address the serious issues our small town is besieged by. They are stained until they do.
I’ve lost other cases but they cannot be spoken of specifically due to the judgements or appeals.
- One, involving someone high up in policing, found the judge scribbling a few lines and totally ignoring hours of evidence and cross-examination i presented.
- The next had the judge dismissing the majority of my 75-page affidavit and hundreds of pages of evidence because i never listed it in the correct section of the affidavit. A stated goal of our justice system is to be reasonable. That it wasn’t was so bizarre that it violently shook my faith in the justice system altogether.
- Then i have the sheriffs at my home to attach my things because a default judgement has been made against me because i mistakenly thought that my notice to defend was my plea (they went to court without me, without telling me). That case is made highly ironic by the fact that i have a Protection Order against the person who got the judgement (the Knysna SAPS illegally refuse to enforce the Protection Order – they’re no fans of my blogging too).
With so many legal actions and a defamation campaign being run against me, i cannot help but feel that there is a cabal out to destroy my life and ensure that no justice is brought to many serious situations in Knysna. Either you believe that or the argument of my enemies which is that i deserve this and have no worth to Knysna. That will be up to you, the reader to decide. Hopefully you make that decision with as many facts at hand.
It has been a severely challenging year for me and it’s daunting realising that i will have years of court battles ahead.
Will i lose the little i’ve got left?
Will i go to jail? If that ever happens, count the days with me because i will jeopardise myself with protest immediately so as to draw attention to the issues that damage our town.
Will i be hurt or worse?
I’ve sunk, several times, seeking new lows. Each time i surface and fight because i despise our cowardice that has allowed evil politicians to rule us, not only South Africa but right here in Knysna where we can make a difference. I surface because hate has become my petrol – it’s not negative if it’s a motivator. I hate people such as Helen Zille who pretend to care but don’t care at all, who, if they wanted to, could stop the bad things happening to our town. I still stand because i believe in righteousness and the right to question – it’s the way i’m made (i wish i wasn’t but i can’t wish to not be me).
Us liberals lost our faith in the ANC long ago. Now i’ve lost mine in the DA. Everything seems to be about who markets best, who markets worst… and who grabs power from whom… and us who lets them do so.
It’s difficult being South African when there’s no one left to trust.
As i’ve said several times before, one day i may quit or one day i may fall, but today is not that day.
For years, i’ve limited who i was prepared to contact as i wanted the investigation to be as pure of motive as possible but since the DA has refused to clean itself with investigation and transparency, i’m now prepared to talk to anyone in government who will listen.
My time will be limited so rather than use what i have giving you the news and advertising businesses as i usually do, i’m going to rather focus on the kids’ projects, formalise it and grow it so that if i’m not available, it can carry on under others.
Thank you to those of you who continue believing in what i do!
PS: I hope this encourages you to explore my blogs which will prove what i’m saying. Journalists can contact me via email (i will occasionally login but, as of today, my cellphone will be turned off so that i can focus on the immense challenges facing me and Knysna. I have scheduled some posts, in advance, for Facebook).
PS2: Read what could be called an epilogue to today’s blog at ‘Don’t Let Go, Knysna’.
NB: Comments are welcomed at www.facebook.com/loveknysna/posts/808396805939888 but fake profiles and claims without substantiation will be deleted. Also note that this is not an ANC vs DA blog so don’t deliver that nonsense or associated racism. I consider that our entire political system is a mess and that we, as South Africans (no matter our colour or status) are in trouble. If anything, we need to use that commonality to unify ourselves.