The NSPCA has confirmed that Greg Vogt, the new CEO of Knysna Tourism (KT), has been charged for his alleged role in elephant abuse at Knysna Elephant Park (KEP) during his 7-year tenure as manager.
His selection as CEO is controversial and I have previously stated my belief that this was in order to continue the cover-up of the financial disaster that befell Knysna Tourism and should have led to politicians and municipal staff being punished. Ironically, three of the alleged guilty, who were Board Directors with Vogt during that time period, comprised the panel that selected him out of 115 local and international candidates for the job.
This week, the owners of the Knysna Elephant Park joined the controversy as a Tourism member by stating his alleged misdeeds and the deliberate failure of the selection process.
My fear that Greg Vogt would become CEO at Knysna Tourism was confirmed by my gut when I was refused admittance to The Director’s Club where the leadership announcement was to be made that morning of June 12 this year. No new CEO with the burden of leadership would have wanted to carry the baggage of his predecessor so denying me, their largest critic, access was the same as admitting that the circus that is the relationship between Knysna Tourism (KT) and Knysna Municipality (KM), that had utter disregard for the public, was set to continue.
In an unofficial yet well know capacity, Greg Vogt had been running the CEO-empty Knysna Tourism since September 2012. Despite his denials until the last moment, it was as common knowledge that he was after the job. Shaun van Eck, the ex-CEO who was given the boot, had claimed that from the beginning.
His likely appointment was further emphasised when:
- Fran Kirsten, the Knysna-Plett Herald journalist who i’d accused of bias, phoned to tell me that I wasn’t accredited media and thus not allowed in. She immediately contradicted herself by saying that I, like the other media, could have a one-on-one interview with the new CEO immediately after the announcement and general questioning session. The ‘divide and conquer’ approach is typical Greg Vogt so maybe it’s true that he was a former Captain in the Military Psychological Institute.
- When I pressed Fran Kirsten, she got flustered, forgot her reasoning and said (i paraphrase), “This is why the (Tourism) Board decided you should not be allowed in.”
A few minutes later, I received my first call ever from Johan van Schalkwyk, the Marketing Manager for Knysna Tourism, whose goal was to reiterate what Kirsten had said yet acting as if he were unaware of the call with her. I called him out on that and, to his credit, he never denied it. I told him that although his pay depends on his bosses instructions, I’m only interested in his moral choice.
It was obvious that the Knysna Tourism Board (or rather the few that call the shots) were not only controlling the situation but determined to present a pre-determined product i.e. the immaculate conception of Greg Vogt.
Read Part 2 here.