Dear Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, this is the full FOURTH COMPLAINT of corruption as submitted to the Eden District office of the Public Protector.
Democratic Alliance Eden District Councillor Rowan Spies is the ex-husband of Democratic Alliance Knysna Mayor Eleonore Spies. He seems to be ex-husband in title only as they live and act together as a married couple. The only visible difference in their relationship is that they are now both politicians and both have switched from the ANC to the DA. She was previously the ANC Mayor when he was involved in an ANC cash for tenders scandal, money being deposited into their joint account.
I gained a related, damning forensic report that the DA suspiciously buried.
In-person, Premier Helen Zille proved she’s a liar through and through. She promised action yet did nothing, allowing then-candidate councillor Rowan Spies to be elected to the District. Despite having no experience, he almost became Deputy Mayor but a faction battle scuppered that.
The DA’s proclaimed careful vetting of candidates would appear to be a lie too. For this situation to exist, surely there must’ve been political and power manipulations?
There’s more to this story than my report but my submission is disturbing in itself…
[I leave out the beginning wherein I stated who I am and what I do]
Rowan Spies is an Eden Councillor for the Democratic Alliance (DA), as of August 2016.
Rowan Spies was married to the African National Congress (ANC) Mayor for Knysna, Eleonore Bouw-Spies. She is now the DA’s Mayor of Knysna (as of August 2016).
Strangely, their divorce, before she switched parties and resumed office, and before he became an Eden Councillor, was in name only. In every other way, to the best of my knowledge, they have continued as a married couple.
Although her identity document states “Eleonore Spies”, she ran under the DA election banner as Eleonore Bouw-Spies, amalgamating her maiden name.
In 2011, when his wife, Eleonore Bouw-Spies, was the ANC Mayor of Knysna, Rowan Spies was the front-man for a a company called Xylophone Investments. His partner was Estelle Gie, wife of a local businessman.
Xylophone Investments was involved in scandals in Bitou Municipality a.k.a. Plettenberg Bay. It was alleged that they were receiving favouritism from the ANC.
One controversy involved a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) function hosted by Bitou. A report by the auditing firm Mazars [RS01], initiated after the DA won the municipality in 2011, offers a window into kickbacks from Xylophone to Ralph Links, then Bitou’s Head of Strategic Services. Links was considered to be ANC.
In a nutshell, Xylophone charged for work that they didn’t do. Ralph Links then provided that work at the public’s expense. Money, with the reference ‘Ralph’ was paid into the joint account of Rowan and Eleonor Spies.
Estelle Gie, Rowan’s financial partner, claimed that it was an error that should’ve been referenced ‘Rowan’. However, she was unable to explain why the amount was separate to Rowan’s share paid a minute before.
Additionally, Gie lied that PAYE tax was paid on the ‘Ralph’ payment. In fact, all Spies’ payments, EXCEPT for ‘Ralph’’s, had PAYE paid.
Worsening matters, Mazar’s proved that Gie fraudulently altered a date on an email so as to support her version of events with falsehood.
The auditing report appears damning.
I received the Mazar’s Final Report [RS01] from Attorney Hardy Mills on June 2 2014 [RS02]. At that stage, he was representing several politicians in Eden District.
As Johann Brummer, a Bitou DA councillor, had publicly expressed concerns regarding the situation, I contacted him. As I’d criticised him on my blog, I was surprised that he responded. He confirmed that there was a problem, saying that he was the one “who uncovered the Xylophone scam and dug up the documentation.” He considers it to be one of the reasons why he was expelled from the DA. His email should be considered as further evidence of the power of political obstruction [RS03].
My concern was emphasised with Eleonore Bouw-Spies strangely switching parties, becoming a Knysna DA candidate guaranteed of a win in the DA-dominated, Ward 5 (2014). This would be emphasised when her partner, Rowan Spies, a seemingly unsuccessful man with no experience, became a DA candidate too (2016). Both were elected. Bouw-Spies was immediately made Speaker.
My intentionally quiet queries in 2014 resulted in no response. Other matters took precedence. My own battle to survive was a factor too.
I do not have all the relevant emails, or show all I have, but these are sufficient to show that there was an unwillingness to respond or investigate:
20.1 Eleonore Bouw-Spies email [RS04a]
20.2 Rowan Spies email [RS04b]
20.3 DA Councillor Peter Myers [RS05]
20.4 DA Federal Chairperson James Selfe [ RS06]
20.5 DA Mayor Eleonore Bouw-Spies [RS07, RS09]
20.6 Acting Municipal Manager for Knysna Carl Mattheus [RS08, RS09]
Prieur du Plessis, a partner in Mazars, the firm which had undertaken the audit for the Bitou Municipality, contacted me with the complaint that the report was confidential and that I must remove it from my website [RS10]. He also wanted to know who’d given it to me. As the report is the property of the Bitou Municipality and thus the property of the public, I considered his contacting me, and threatening me with lawyers, as unadmitted intervention on behalf of their DA clients.
Helen Zille was in Knysna on July 21 2016. Approximately 100 people attended. I handed out 50 x 4-page flyers [RS11]. She received 2 copies, one from me and another from DA Treasurer, Dee Hollely. Page 3 was dedicated to the question of Rowan Spies and Xylophone.
Helen Zille would not answer my questions during the Q&A Session. Instead, she glossed over matters and DA leaders, before I could get to the Spies topic, began a chant for me to leave the room. However, Helen Zille met me after the meeting (Councillor Peter Myers and his wife, Candace Myers, were in attendance). One of the issues discussed was Rowan Spies.
On July 26, I sent Zille a follow-up email that mentioned the flyer and attached the Mazars report [RS12].
With the August 3 2016 local elections, Rowan Spies became an Eden Councillor.
An email to Zille on August 7 [RS13] queried her lack of response and criticised her for allowing Spies to become a councillor. To date, she has failed to respond.
The Knysna-Plett Herald, the main local newspaper which I consider to be working for the agenda of several DA councillors and municipal managers, would not report on the matter [RS14a, RS14b, RS14c].
So as to emphasise the challenges I face, and as examples of the Knysna-Plett Herald’s bias and Speaker/Mayor Bouw-Spies’ obstruction in any matter:
28.1 On March 19 2015, the newspaper published a letter against me by Speaker Bouw-Spies [RS15]. I wasn’t allowed a response. In it, Bouw-Spies stated unconstitutionally: “I will not be engaging Mr Mike Hampton on any platform at any level.”
28.2 On February 25 2016, the newspaper published 2 letters against me and wouldn’t allow me response [RS16a, RS16b, RS16c]. The letters were DA affiliated and meant to discredit me. The authors were Dr Martin Young (now a DA councillor) and Dr Douglas Seton.
28.3 On July 22 2016, in first response to the Zille meeting mentioned in para 23 of this complaint, the newspaper published a video clip showing the DA chanting for me to leave [RS17]. This was syndicated to The Citizen. The clip was without context. A totally different picture emerges if one listens to my recording of the meeting. Again, the goal was to discredit me.
28.4 On September 9 2016, Mayor Bouw-Spies issued a press release against me [RS18a]. This appeared in the newspaper [RS18b]. Again, I wasn’t allowed response.
On August 15 2016, I delivered a complaint to the Knysna Council called ‘Elephants in the Room’ [RS19]. It included my queries regarding Rowan Spies. There was a copy for all 21 councillors. Despite its serious content, at the time of this complaint (5 weeks later), and despite many follow-ups, it hasn’t being acknowledged or introduced to any Section 80 meeting or the 3 Ordinary Council and Special Council Meetings since.
In the greater context, and as the further emphasis in how the Knysna Municipality operates, my submission of serious allegations to Parliament on February 10 2016, has yet to be mentioned either, despite making the front page of the Cape Times twice i.e. blocking my complaints is deliberate and further failure of oversight. I believe this is because there are simply so many councillors and municipal staff involved in wrongdoing, partly evidenced by my other submissions to the Public Protector.
The facts is that for years none of my serious questions involving the DA in repeated instances of maladministration and questionable situations is ever answered. I’m either ignored or actively blocked. The propaganda campaign against me, which I’ve barely touched on, has been extreme.
Without revealing my source, I recently received a copy of an email between ex-DA Councillor Johann Brummer and MEC Anton Bredell. Although it doesn’t mention the Xylophone/Spies matter by name, it seems to be referring to it (and other serious matters). If so, it’s an essential read [RS20].
Why did the DA not make the Mazars report and associated documentation on Xylophone public?
Why did the DA, whose disciplinary process was in an advanced stage (and involved more municipal officials) pull the plug?
Who else, from local government, was involved besides Ralph Links?
Why did MEC Anton Bredell not act on an extensive report submitted to him by Councillor Johann Brummer, the only Councillor who voted for the investigation and disciplinary process to be completed?
Was Brummer was kicked out of the party because of it?
Why has the DA ignored this history whilst making Eleonor Bouw-Spies, the ex-ANC Mayor, their Mayor?
Why have the DA ignored this history whilst making Rowan Spies their #1 candidate to Eden District?
What has Rowan Spies, who seems to be a failed businessmen and lightweight estate agent, done to have earned such a prestigious and important nomination?
Is there a conflict of interest in Eleonor Bouw-Spies being the Knysna’s mayor whilst Knysna falls under Eden where her ‘husband’ works?
Why has the Knysna-Plett Herald given the DA and the Spies’ a free ride?
Constitutionally, how can the DA ignore this and my other complaints?
As it seems with any complaint I’ve presented regards the DA. Is their deliberate cover-up and prevention of truth in the public interest?
Dear Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, yours in hope of investigation leading to correction,
Michael James Hampton