There’s a desperate battle for control of Knysna in the Western Cape. That happens in many other places but the difference here is that it’s particularly vicious and mostly between different factions of the Democratic Alliance (DA).
The current dominant faction is led by Mayor Mark Willemse and Councillor Peter Myers. They have support from opposition parties, particular some ANC councillors whose leader was assassinated two months ago. The recently deposed and angry faction contains eight DA councillors.
There’s no democracy in Knysna, not even pretence – the DA’s national and provincial bosses decide what happens, not the locals.
The DA Federal Executive, it’s Western Cape Leader Bonginkosi Madikizela and Western Cape Chairperson Anton Bredell want the even more corrupt losers back in power. That’s seemingly because that’s the best way to maintain cover-up that ultimately protects the DA’s leadership that are implicated in Knysna’s corruption e.g. Helen Zille, MEC Alan Winde and MEC Bredell, all members of the same faction, all having threatened this author for exposing them, illegally using Public funds to do so.
A further bonus for them would’ve been faction members Madikizela or Winde secured more votes from Knysna for their attempt to be Premier of the Province.
THE SECRET REPORT INTO KAM CHETTY
Last week, I posted an article entitled ‘DA’s Kam Chetty implicated in fraud’. It referenced a Knysna-Plett Herald article about an investigation into ex-Municipal Manager Kam Chetty, a Municipal Director and a DA Councillor.
Yesterday, an anonymous informant sent me 12 of the 17 pages of that investigation which the DA have kept secret It wouldn’t surprise me if it was a member of a faction who sent it.
The relevant Council meeting was held behind closed doors. I was even denied the topic of that agenda by Willemse’s office. It’s been commonplace for Willemse to pretend to be a hero in the fight against corruption whilst keeping the Public in the dark for the three months he’s been in office.
Nevertheless, the outcome of the investigation favours his faction immensely and appears to be for the good health of Knysna.
Kam Chetty began as Knysna Municipality’s Municipal Manager on July 1 2017 and quit on July 6 2018. The investigation was authorised by Council only 19 days after his departure, prompted by Chetty alleging he’d suffered constructive dismissal, suing the municipality for R5-million. If he hadn’t pursued that course, it’s possible that Mayor Willemse wouldn’t have held him accountable, the DA having repeatedly ignored the crimes of several municipal managers and directors before him. R5-million is a lot harder to avoid.
The investigation was conducted by well known Pretoria based firm, De Swardt Vogel Myambo Attorneys, hereafter referred to as DSVM.
ALLEGATION 1: BACK-DATING OF EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT
Kam Chetty’s contract as Municipal Manager was signed on August 24 2017 but intentionally backdated to July 10 2017.
As I’m banned by Knysna Municipality, the Western Cape Government and the DA, I was obviously not interviewed by the DSVM investigators. If they had, they’d have discovered that I was aware from the outset of Chetty’s appointment that he and the DA were co-conspirators. Consequently, on July 19 2018, I requested information through the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
As it was my 23rd PAIA to Knysna Municipality, I was fully aware that I’d be denied the information. It’s part of a criminal organisation that protects itself through secrecy. What I never expected is that obstruction to begin with the Municipality illegally raising the PAIA fee, the illegality confirmed by the South African Human Rights Commission.
The Western Cape Office of the Public Protector refused to investigate which was also expected as I’d already reported their protection of DA corruption to Parliament.
If anyone had acted, Knysna would have been saved a year of chaos and millions of rands.
It’s notable that Knysna Municipality’s Human Resources and Finance Department’s couldn’t produce the full contract to the DSVM investigators which implies that pages had been removed or not included so as to cover up the fraud.
Eventually, it was obtained from Chetty’s Personal Assistant, Anita Strydom. Interestingly, the same week Chetty began his job, Strydom signed a petition trying to close down my website and Facebook, labelling my fight against corruption as a “personal vendetta”.
Chetty appeared to selfishly delay his signature until National Government announced higher salaries and benefits. This was only possible through the collusion of Director Legal Services Melony Paulsen and DA Mayor Eleanore Spies.
It was found that the date on the contract had been falsified, falsely testified to with signatures by Chetty and Spies.
The likely reason for the date of July 10 being chosen is that Chetty signed approval for Knysna Tourism to be illegally funded with another R4-million on July 11.
DSVM recommended that:
- Knysna Municipality oppose Chetty’s constructive dismissal litigation and;
- Chetty’s contract be voided and;
- Disciplinary proceedings be initiated against Mayor Spies and Director Paulsen.
ALLEGATION 2 & 11: KNYSNA TOURISM CONTRACT
Kam Chetty signed the contract to give Knysna Tourism R4-million whilst being fully aware that he was yet to be employed as Municipal Manager and thus had no right to.
Although a blatant contravention of law, only a High Court can set that aside. Considering its unconstitutionality, the Court must also “determine a just and equitable remedy.”
Although DSVM doesn’t state it clearly, it’ s suggested that there was a trade. Spies got her way in illegally funding Knysna Tourism (despite there being a separate legal opinion stating that such was unlawful). Chetty got to wait until salaries limits were raised so that he could earn more money. In plain speech, a bribe took place.
Director Legal Services Melony Paulsen was again aware of what was happening and thus complicit.
Chetty is “alleged to have given an unlawful instruction to the Director of Planning and development, Ms Marlene Boyce, relating to the payment of fees in respect of Knysna Tourism. Ms Boyce has confirmed the validity of this statement.”
The illegal funding of Knysna Tourism had been an issue long before Kam Chetty became Municipal Manager in 2016. He was alleged to have conspired with a faction of the DA to go to extreme lengths to get rid of Director Boyce who was considered to be a member of the opposing faction, and who was adamant that Knysna Tourism wouldn’t be illegally funded again. To agree to it would’ve made her a criminal too. To her credit, she didn’t.
DSVM recommended that:
- Disciplinary proceedings be initiated against Spies and Paulsen.
- DSVM be afforded a further 30 days to determine if the monies were recoverable [that is highly unlikely].
ALLEGATION 3: PENSION FUND DEDUCTION/DEPOSITS
Knysna Municipality, as the employer, was supposed to make a monthly contribution of R14,218 rand towards Kam Chetty’s retirement, deposited into a pension fund. As the employee, Chetty had to deposit R7,109 into the same fund, bringing the total to R21,327 monthly.
Exactly what happened here is unknown as this author is missing the relevant next page in the report.
ALLEGATION 4: UNKNOWN
This page of the report is missing.
ALLEGATION 5: BILINGUAL ISSUE
By law, the requirements of an advertised position must be strictly adhered to. That failed here as it was advertised that the Municipal Manager must be bilingual whereas it’s alleged that Kam Chetty isn’t.
As Chetty had quit, DSVM recommended that there was no practical reason to pursue the allegation.
What DSVM doesn’t possess is knowledge of context. Exactly the same happened with previous Municipal Manager Grant Easton. As with Chetty, Easton’s appointment was marked by several irregularities which didn’t matter to the DA because they’d predetermined that they wanted him in charge. Without his assistance, cover-up would’ve been impossible at that stage.
Knysna has a history of compromised Municipal Managers protecting compromised senior staff and politicians i.e. once in bed with each other, unhealthy relationships are almost guaranteed to ‘ blossom’.
ALLEGATION 6: INTERFERENCE WITH FINANCE STAFF
The important position of Manager Income became vacant on November 30 2017.
Chief Financial officer (CFO) Mbulelo Memani participated in the recruitment process, finally recommending Busisiwe Kova.
Chetty refused to appoint Kova, ordering a comprehensive second process that, along with the search for two other employees, cost the ratepayer R117,300. Chetty removed Memani’s authority only to find that Kova was top of the selection process again.
Despite this, Chetty kept the position vacant. It was only on August 1 2018, after Chetty quit, that the position could be filled.
It’s possible that Chetty never wanted the position occupied so as to assist secrecy regarding his unlawful contract, and the discrepancies involving his pension contributions. It’s also possible, as has happened before, that a compromised person, rather than the best person, was meant for the job.
DSVM stated that it was evident that considerable and unnecessary delay resulted in irregular expenditure.
ALLEGATIONS 7 & 8: ILLEGAL FUNDING OF POLITICIANS LEGAL FEES
“The Municipal Manager is accused of instructing that municipal funds be used for the private legal costs” of two DA councillors, Speaker Georlene Wolmarans and Councillor Eleanore Spies.” It was established that [Chetty] authorised and participated in an instruction to Messrs Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr [Attorneys] to obtain interdictory relief against the infamous Mr Mike Hampton who allegedly made false and defamatory statements.”
It was obvious that the three legal threats were on behalf of the councillors, at the outrageous price of R85,595.
“There can be no doubt that interdictory relief related to the persona of a councillor is of a personal nature and it is our conclusion that these expenses so incurred constitutes irregular expenditure and/or unauthorized expenditure. We, therefore, recommend that appropriate action be instituted against” Councillor Spies, Municipal Manager Kam Chetty “and the Manager Legal Services, Ms M Paulsen for the recovery of the irregular and/or unauthorised expenditure incurred.”
It’s improper and unprofessional for De Swardt Vogel Myambo Attorneys (DSVM) to refer to me as “infamous” which is incongruity with the opinions of the DA faction paying their bills from the Public coffer. DSVM never used a derogatory term against any of those they consider guilty yet did so against me, the victim of their illegality. DSVM did not consult me regards this matter which suggests their mandate was for a DA faction and not the Public.
Additionally, an alleged report by Paulsen was kept hidden from the Council for one year. DSVM decides that it never existed which is not as conclusive as obtaining statement from Paulsen, Chetty and their staff. It’s possible that a falsified report would damn the participants further. And if its true that the report never existed, their punishment would be made more severe by their lies to Council.
Strangely, DSVM doesn’t recommend action against Wolmarans who, as Speaker, is supposed to be the defender of Council ethics. She has failed to act on my complaints since she entered office in 2011.
The matter of this legal fee was long ago reported to Premier Helen Zille, the Public Protector and the DA Federal Executive. As they failed to act, they protected those stealing from the Public purse. They put the DA interests before the Province so as to protect their corrupt faction.
ALLEGATION 9: UNDUE INFLUENCE ON MACRO STRUCTURE
“The Municipal Manager is accused of unduly influencing the recommendation of the consultants relating to the Macro Structure of the Municipality. Due to the fact that the Municipal Manager has now resigned, the investigators are of the opinion that there will be no practical or other benefits in probing this allegation at this stage.”
Chetty and DA councillors planned to remove an entire directorate so as to allegedly get rid of a staff member standing in the way of their negative ambitions.
The anonymously run Knysna Politics Exposed Facebook page exposed Chetty’s deviousness and hypocrisy: “During last night’s Ward 9 Budget and IDP meeting Mr. Chetty was asked why the Planning Directorate was being disbanded. He explained that Knysna would be getting less grant funding from National Treasury and that reducing the Directorates would result in a saving on staff costs. The Agenda for the Special Council Meeting of 25 April 2018 has been published on the municipal website. The costing comparison between the current and proposed staff establishment has been included on page 172. The proposed new staff establishment [most of which would be positions in Chetty’s office] will cost the municipality a whopping R25 Million more per annum!”
ALLEGATION 10: DRAFT MINUTE TAMPERING
It was well known that Councillor Peter Myers opposed Chetty on several matters that were clearly illegal. Elephants in the room included Chetty’s backdated contract and the illegal funding of Knysna Tourism.
Chetty attempted to discredit Myers by obtaining R90,667 in legal advice to try proof Myer’s altering of draft minutes of a meeting was wrongful. As it was a draft, not final, that was obviously impossible.
DSVM “concluded that there is merit in the allegations made against the Municipal Manager in this regard and it is recommended that the appropriate procedures should be instituted for the recovery of the fruitless and wasteful expenditure so incurred against the Municipal Manager.”
Kam Chetty was an outsider who never relocated his home from Cape Town to Knysna. The bigger scandal is Councillor Spies whose a lifelong resident and implicated in most of the alleged crimes here. What’s mentioned here is only the tip of a nasty iceberg.
‘I was unable to mention Spies name (until today, March 20 2019) as I’d been placed under an interim order which arrives with a warrant of arrest if I ‘transgress’. I’ve chosen to accept the risk in the Public interest.
It seems obvious that having the protection order issued against me just before the report came out was another of many DA cases of abuse of the court in their attempts to silence me. The Knysna Magistrates’ Court is always happy to do what the DA wants, even when that means ignoring evidence, refusing witnesses and denying due process. It’s been a protector of political corruption, becoming corruption itself.
But that doesn’t stop me handing over more evidence to the Hawks on Wednesday when their team flies in to see me.
The DA’s attempts at cover-up and intimidation will only increase their eventual jail sentences.
As for Kam Chetty, this should make readers wonder if the Oudtshoorn rumours about him are true. That’s where he was previously employed. Whilst the town was under administration, the DA put Chetty in charge. It’s been alleged that he allowed consultants to make a fortune.
As damning as the De Swardt Vogel & Myambo report is, it isn’t comprehensive e.g. it doesn’t touch the biggest problem which was the fraudulent Great Knysna Fire investigation report and the missing donations. But both factions of the DA wouldn’t want to touch that whilst the Municipality is being sued for R480-million.
Update: Dec 2018, Spies was promoted to Speaker of the Garden Route District. In March, she was made #1 on the DA’s regional list for the coming elections.