This article reveals the underhanded conduct of the Democratic Alliance and that they’re prepared to play with the future of a whole town. This is clearly demonstrated through the disciplinary charge sheet against Knysna’s Municipal Manager, Grant Easton.
The charges have not been made public until now. In fact, for 9 days, the Municipality’s Legal Department and Municipal Manager Johnny Douglas have failed to acknowledge my PAIA request for the full details of the disciplinary hearing. I mysteriously discovered part of the required information in an envelope at my home door early Thursday evening.
The charge sheet is a product of the R1.2-million external investigation into Grant Easton after local resident Susan Campbell laid a complaint in July 2016. The cost to the public rises to R2-million when including his salary whilst suspended. 6 days into his disciplinary hearing, Easton quit. His resignation was accepted. His agreement includes him being paid up until end April, that gaining him approximately R150,000 more.
This awkwardly results in him not being found innocent or guilty of any of the disciplinary accusations.
To the best of my knowledge. Knysna Municipality has not laid a criminal complaint with the SAPS.
Easton is rumoured to be leaving the country, following ex-Director Planning & Development & fellow ISDF tender supporter Mike Maughan-Brown who is now selling doors in the UK.
THE DISCIPLINARY CHARGES
The full document can be downloaded as a zip folder from ‘Grant Easton Disciplinary Charge Sheet’ (note that on page 9 i’ve hidden the name of the staff member Easton allegedly had an affair with. How public funds and processes are handled is more important than sex).
Here’s the summary:
- Unlawful Supply Chain Management and Procurement Procedures – enabled and allowed the continued use of the local premium preference policy [which allowed tenderers to circumvent BEE].
- ISDF Tender – Enabled the appointment of Knysna Creative Heads Consortium at a value of R2,749,338 in respect of a tender in an unlawful manner [the ISDF is the plan for the 3-year future of Knysna].
- Unlawful Loan Agreements – On behalf of the Knysna Municipality, entered into two unlawful loan agreements with ABSA Bank Limited for the amounts of R17,301,600 and R1,720,000.
- Misled Council in respect of disciplinary proceedings against Budget Manager Avitha Sunkar.
- Failed to ensure the implementation of the commitments and recommendations from the Auditor General, in particular with regard to the tenders/contracts awarded to local suppliers based on a preferential premium not given to suppliers with the lowest price, causing irregular expenditure of R7,924,285.
- In respect of Jam Electrical (a company owned by the husband of the Manager of the Electrical Department), an irregular expenditure of R1,133,234.
- The arrogant and disrespectful statement to the Auditor General: “With respect, it appears that the Auditor General is auditing on the basis of Regulation. If that is the case, then, in future, Knysna will resort to the meaningless performance system of tick boxes i.e. do a report regardless of the value or meaning of the report. That is not what performance management is about but if that is what the Auditor General wants and expects and audits then that is what you will get. Put bluntly, this approach adds nothing to service delivery but everything to compliance and compliance is made up nonsense.”
- An inappropriate personal relationship with an employee in his department which, over an extended period of time, caused significant staff problems.
- Inappropriate personal bias expressed to Susan Campbell in 2014 regarding a tender, to the effect that he would not, on behalf of the Municipality, “…do business with those Indians? I am sure Avitha got them involved.”
- Irregularities in respect of town planning approvals during or about July and/or August 2016 whilst Council was on holiday.
GRANT EASTON & GEORLENE WOLMARANS DECEIVED PARLIAMENT
Notably, in response to my submission, Grant Easton addressed Parliament’s Committee on Petitions & Executive Undertakings in April 2016. The charge sheet topics include several complaints of mine to that Committee i.e. the ISDF tender, an illegal local premium used to circumvent BEE whilst tendering, and the now ex-Manager of the Electrical Department, Manon McDonald, allegedly being allowed to give the majority of her department’s work to her husband’s private company.
The DA, particularly then-Mayor Knysna Georlene Wolmarans (who is currently Speaker), supported Easton at that Committee meeting. Similarly, Easton’s answers were supporting the DA i.e. they were claiming that they had done no wrong. The DA’s recent suspension of Easton, the institution of an expensive investigation, and then acceptance of his resignation 6 days into his hearing, makes a mockery of their presentation to the Committee.
As I stated via email to the Committee, after I’d listened to the audio recording of that April meeting, the Committee was lied to. This charge sheet makes the deception even more significant.
THE DA & MEC ANTON BREDELL
Fact is that none of the DA involved in these questionable situations has been investigated let alone charged e.g. MEC Anton Bredell played a Major role in the ISDF scandal. Helen Zille was repeatedly contacted by me and I met her in person.
The DA appears to be hypocritically sweeping as much of their mess away as possible whilst deliberately ignoring political accountability. Maybe it was only ever their intention to force Easton to quit so as for him to be out of sight and mind, the DA less likely to be implicated if Easton was found guilty.
Do not forget that it was the DA who made Grant Easton Municipal Manager. It could be considered that over two years of his salary was irregular expenditure. The first time he was to be anointed as Municipal Manager, DA Eastern Region Manager Jaco Londt entered the building, resulting in an emergency DA caucus at the start of the Council Meeting, the timing the first i’ve witnessed.
A visibly flustered/embarassed Wolmarans (who was then still Mayor) then stated to Council and the public that Easton was not to be appointed until the full report into the ISDF investigation was complete. However, without it, he was made Municipal Manager at the next Council meeting. Thus, she clearly became a liar, seemingly fulfilling a predetermined agenda. Note my simple but now incriminating email to her in between her contradictory actions.
It then became a chase for that report which Bredell’s department wouldn’t release. Susan Campbell obtained it 6 months later via the Eden District Office of the Public Protector. The report was damning against both the tender and, by result, against Bredell, one of Premier Helen Zille’s right-hand men, who had defied his own department’s report to give the ISDF a rotten green light from Cape Town.
DA LEADERSHIP SUPPORTING CORRUPTION
Zille and the DA Federal Executive, including Mmusi Maimane and James Selfe, have long had my evidence against members in their ranks yet have failed to act.
Instead, they were happy for their underlings to falsely label me as a sociopath and paedophile after I exposed their party’s corruption.
Their possible egg-in-the-face-complicity moment is approaching. Speaker Wolmarans is surely the first in the public ridicule firing line, made ironic by her position which is meant to safeguard the moral code of councillors.
The Parliamentary Committee is expected to rule on my petition in May 2017 but I’m hoping that they grant my request that they hold a full day hearing before since there has been so much new evidence since my last appearance (Campbell was previously invited as a witness).
The Public Protector (Eden District office) is investigating many other matters (illegal appointments, intimidation, suppression of information etc.). They too have been handed a copy of Grant Easton’s charge sheet.
Will the Democratic Alliance come clean? Will they provide all documentation relating to the disciplinary hearing (including the recordings)? Will Mmusi Maimane submit to the DA Federal Executive that the Knysna Council, DA Eastern Region Manager Jaco Londt, MEC Anton Bredell and Premier Helen Zille must be investigated?
JOURNALISTS, PLEASE STOP GIVING THE DA A FREE RIDE
It’s disgusting that so many newspapers have refused to publish DA corruption for years. Unchecked corruption can only grow. For us Western Cape residents, where the DA rules (not the ANC), that makes biased media complicit in damaging our lives. If any journalists are willing to break the blockade, here are details assisting verification of facts and allowing composition of original articles.
- DA Leader Mmusi Maimane – email@example.com
- Colleen Nel (Easton’s lawyer) – firstname.lastname@example.org / 083 461 7119
- Speaker (ex-Mayor) Georlene Wolmarans – email@example.com / 082 666 8541
- Knysna Communications Department Manager Fran Kirsten – firstname.lastname@example.org / 082 416 3398
- Content Supervisor Committee Petitions – email@example.com
- Public Protector Communications Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org
- (Now George Municipality) Manager Fleet Services Manon McDonald – email@example.com
- Susan Campbell – firstname.lastname@example.org
References & Associated Matters for Context:
- ‘Minister & Mayor in Knysna Property Tender Scandal’
- ‘Troubled Knysna’s Submission to Parliament’
- ‘Susan Campbell Rejects Knysna Municipality’s Answers to Parliament’
- ‘Mike Hampton Presents Facts versus DA’s Response to Parliament’
- ‘Dear Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’
- ‘Helen Zille, I Will Never Let This Go’
NB: Grant Easton was asked for comment through his lawyer. She has yet to respond.
PS: Love your town and country before biased politics. When faced with corruption, remember to be good neighbours and good citizens by waving your two flags of flesh.