RATES HIKE RAISES CONCERNS

The most recent rates invoices presented a nasty shock to a number of Greater Knysna residents, particularly those residing in the more rural areas. This after their rates showed dramatic increases – sometimes by as much as 300%. Worse yet, these increases have been back-dated to 2017.
Those who approached the newspaper with concerns over this issue have asked for their names to be withheld as they are currently exchanging communication with municipal officials to see what, if anything, can be done to reduce the increases.
“I have serious issues as to how this has been carried out,” said one resident of the Hoogekraal area. “There was no consultation, no notification of valuations being done. We paid our rates in full for the 2017 / 2018 year, and again for the 2018 / 2019 year, but now we have been hit with backdated increases and told we are in arrears!”
It seems that the change in the rates charged stems from the Knysna Municipal Supplementary Valuation Roll for 2017 / 2022, which was undertaken by DDP Property Valuation Experts and certified in Pretoria on 31 March 2019.
The document lists close to 1000 properties in the Greater Knysna area which have been subject to a change in rates. Mostly this is due to the property either being rezoned by the valuators, or because they have assessed a substantial change in its market value.
A huge number of rural properties are on the Supplementary Valuation Roll, having been rezoned as ‘Residential’, whilst others in residential areas have been rezoned as ‘business’. A query by one resident who asked why his farm had lost its ‘agriculture’ zoning when nothing had changed on the property for years, received the following explanation from the Municipality:
“In order for the category to be changed to agriculture, proof of Bona Fide farming from SARS is required. In the case of subsistence farming the criteria above apply. The approval is subject to an in-loco inspection to the property.”
But even on acceptance of the new zoning, the two year backdating of the much higher-rates to 2017 seems for many the most bitter pill to swallow. The general consensus seems to be that though their rates have always been paid, and no skulduggery entered into by the property owners, they are being forced to pay the back-dated amount. “It’s almost like I’m being fined for something I didn’t do,” said one affected property owner, “If the Municipality hadn’t changed our zoning and billed us accordingly back then, why are we now liable for two years of the new rates backdated?”
But once again – the response from the Municipality to such a query indicated that the property owners must fork out, regardless.
“In terms of the rates policy, where the rates levied on a particular property have been incorrectly determined, whether because of an error or omission on the part of the Municipality or false information provided by the property owner concerned or a contravention of the permitted use to which the property concerned may be put, the rates payable shall be appropriately adjusted for the period extending from the date on which the error or omission is detected back to the date on which rates were first levied in terms of the current valuation roll.”
When The EDGE asked the Knysna Municipality for comment on the rate-hikes, Spokesperson Christopher Bezuidenhoudt referred us to the valuation roll notice, which reads as follows:
Supplementary Valuation Roll 2
In terms of the Municipal Property Rates Act “Agricultural property” means property that is used primarily for agricultural purposes but excludes any portion thereof that is used commercially for the hospitality of guests, and excludes the use of the property for the purpose of eco-tourism or for the trading /hunting of game.
In terms of Knysna Municipality’s Rates Policy “Bona-fide farmer” means genuine or real farmer whose dominant income is generated from farming activities, on an agricultural property, within the Knysna municipal area, and is taxed by SARS as a bona-fide farmer.
The Rates Policy further notes that Agricultural Properties used primarily for agricultural activities will be rated at the prescribed ratio as per the Municipal Property Rates Regulations. In terms of section 2(d) of Council’s approved tariffs, the agricultural tariff is only applicable to owners of agricultural properties who are registered with SARS as bona fide farmers.
Properties categorised as “Non-Urban domestic (Residential)” in the General Valuation Roll of 2017 / 2022, were re-categorised to “Residential” in a Supplementary Valuation Roll due to the Non-Urban domestic tariff being phased out, whilst other properties were re-categorised in terms of actual use.
Notices advertising the publication of the Supplementary Valuation Roll 2 were duly published in the Provincial Gazette and once a week for two consecutive weeks in the media, as required by the Municipal Property Rates Act, Act 6 of 2004. This notice invited every person who wished to lodge an objection in respect of any matter omitted in or from the roll, to do so in the prescribed manner within the stated period.
Notices were posted to property owners and this notification, together with the Supplementary Valuation Roll 2, were published on the official website of the Municipality.
The objection period for the Supplementary Valuation Roll 2 closed on the 29 May 2019.
In terms of section 78 1(a) Municipal Property Rates Act 6 of 2004, a municipality must, whenever necessary, cause a supplementary valuation to be made in respect of any rateable property.
Section 78 (4) further notes that rates on a property based on the valuation of that property in a supplementary valuation become payable with effect from the date of which the category has changed.
Bezuidenhoudt also suggested that those with queries are welcome to communicate them directly with the Municipality.
“Please note that not all cases are the same. We invite property owners to contact the Director of Financial Services, Mr Mbulelo Memani, or the Manager of Income, Ms Busiswa Kova for clarification on their individual accounts,” he said.

MAKE A MANDELA DAY DIFFERENCE

On 18 July South Africa once again celebrates its most famous icon – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. And what better way to honour this legend than continuing his legacy of caring for those less fortunate – which is exactly what Mandela Day is all about.
The new Mandela Day goals for the 2019-2029 decade are to address the issues of food and nutrition, education and literacy, shelter, sanitation and active citizenship. People of South Africa are encouraged to spend 67 minutes (or more!) on this day, serving those in need. Whether it be an individual who you know requires assistance, upliftment, or even an hour or so of company, or a charity that could do with a bit of help whilst they serve others, this is a call to plan ahead and get involved.
On a local level, big-hearted Sedgefield has been blessed with several very active charity organisations, all of which really embrace the practice of helping those in need. If you would like to get involved – be it for Mandela Day or on an ongoing basis, please make contact on the numbers provided.
Fresh Start 083 231 5844; Masithandane 044 343 2110; Mobile Meals 083 379 3737; TLC 084 544 1203; SAM 082 420 4825; Sedgemeer Park 044 343 1683.

SCAMMER NAMED AND ARRESTED

The name of the woman who has over the last six months allegedly been defrauding people through her accommodation booking agency has finally been officially released.

SAPS Spokesperson Captain Malcolm Poje said “I can confirm that the accused – Marianne Roux (32) – appeared in the Thembalethu magistrates’ court earlier today (Monday 24 June) in connection with a theft case that was reported to the George SAPS during January 2019. She initially defrauded people by taking their deposits that were supposed to be paid over to the rightful owners of places of holiday accommodation, using the deposits for her own lavish lifestyle.”

He said that she had been arrested at her home in Sedgefield on Friday, 21 June 2019 and detained at Conville SAPS holding cells until her first court appearance on Monday 24 June.

Though only facing a single case at this time, there are numerous other cases that have been opened against Roux by other victims who have fallen prey to her fraudulent behaviour, and evidence is being gathered by SAPS with the assistance of some of these victims.

Poje says that only time will tell how many people Roux has scammed.

“So far 13 complainants have come forward to report that they have been defrauded,” he stated, “This scammer is believed to have swindled these innocent people out of money amounting to more than R70 000.00. We believe that more people could have been conned, we therefore appeal to potential victims to report it to their nearest police station.” He added that people from as far as Lephalale, Midrand, Kempton Park and Bellville had fallen prey to this scammer.

Since January this year The EDGE has regularly included reports of the fraudulent activities of this local lady, but as she hadn’t been officially arrested and charged we could not legally reveal her identity until her first appearance in court.

This legality was a source of frustration for those she had duped. More than a few were clamouring for her name to be ‘put out there’, especially as it seemed she was conning more and more people as the months wore on. Though some had opened police cases against Roux, the wheels of justice were evidently turning slowly for this ‘white collar crime’. This was partly because at least a few of the cases were opened by people living elsewhere in the country at their local police stations.

When news of visitors’ money disappearing into the seemingly bottomless pockets of Roux broke in January this year, a few locals thought that it was merely a result of mismanagement by the young business lady. After all, she was a born and bred Sedgefield mother with strong roots in the community. Indeed when Jurgens van der Walt of the Sedge Info Centre heard the reports of her misdemeanors, he contacted Roux directly and suggested that she ‘come clean’.

“If Marianne had admitted then that she owed the money and agreed to stop her business, and seek help, I’m sure that she could have avoided the jail time she’s facing now,” he said. But though she made promises to him that she would do this, Roux actually continued her very questionable ‘business dealings’.

It wasn’t long before her fraudulent activities mounted up to reach a point of no return, and her victims started clamouring for her arrest – especially when they realised how many of them she had soft-soaped with the same excuses, promises and falsified proof of payments.

Such was their frustration that on 6 June, a ‘WhatsApp’ group was formed by the victims with the aim of gathering information. Before long it grew to 26 members, most of whom had been on the wrong end of Roux’s fraud. Some suffered the simple loss of a R2000 breakage deposit, whilst others have accommodated Roux’s clients but never been paid. There is even a family who relocated to George to find that the house they had ‘leased’ through Roux (with deposit and rent paid for in advance) wasn’t even available for rent.

One member of the group is Estelle Ciaglia, a Cape Town resident who was scammed by Marianne for an amount of R4000 for accommodation booked and paid for in February 2019. (The booking was for her family holiday in December this year, but Estelle has since found out that the owner of the property was not even aware that her house had been rented out, and had certainly received no money from Roux.) Estelle has been assisting SAPS Detective Constable Yoko, the investigating officer, in gathering information on behalf of the victims of Roux, and says that his sterling efforts need to be applauded.
“I have never before come across a SAPS member with so much dedication and commitment. He was absolutely “walking the extra mile” and we salute this exceptional man,” she wrote in an email to The EDGE. Even after he had secured Roux’s arrest, she explained, Yoko had worked diligently to make sure the evidence was in order. “He has provided outstanding service in this case. Even whilst being on sick leave he was committed to continuing his investigation right through the weekend and ’til very late on Saturday evening,” she said.

During her first appearance in court Roux was remanded in custody and the case was postponed to 11 July 2019 for a formal bail application which, according to SAPS Malcolm Poje, the investigating officer will oppose.

Meanwhile Jurgens van der Walt says the Sedgefield Info Centre is appealing for people to spread the word that family and friends should not book any accommodation through any of Marianne Roux’s sites, Eden Events or Eden Travel, and that if they have already done so they should make every effort to contact the owners of their holiday accommodation to make sure they are actually booked in. He fears that people may arrive in the Garden Route for their annual holiday, only to find that they have nowhere to stay!

SEAN KELLY IN COURT AGAIN- ALBEIT BRIEFLY

On Friday 21 June, in Knysna Magistrates Court, the trial of murder accused Sean Kelly recommenced…. for all of five minutes.

Kelly was pacing in the court holding cells from early morning, but only appeared in the dock just after 2pm.

As he was escorted in by the prison official, it was obvious that jail time had aged him somewhat. The 51 year old no longer seemed the towering man who first appeared in court six months ago for the brutal murder of his Marigold Street neighbour, Noreen Hampson on 2 February.

Since he was denied bail on 14 February, he has been in court several times, each time the case being postponed whilst investigation continued. At his last appearance (16 May) the magistrate called a ‘final remand’ until 21 June.

Even as the process started on that given date there seemed to be confusion between Magistrate Leonore Swartz and prosecutor Zuki Mqulu as to what was set to happen, as no detailed psychiatric evaluation of Kelly had been done. Whilst they conferred with one another, Kelly, who is handling his own defense, asked if he could address the court. ‘So I can explain what’s going on’ he said.

The magistrate agreed and Kelly stood.  He said that he had been told on 6 June that he would have to wait to be referred to Valkenberg for psychiatric evaluation, because at that time there was no space available for him at that facility.

The magistrate took this into consideration and remanded the court case until 5 July – which was the date given by Valkenberg as to when they would know if there would be room for him.

Court was then adjourned.

VIC BAY CLASSIC

(Picture source: www.surf-forecast.com)

This weekend sees the staging of the Vic Bay Classic – the penultimate event out of five in the 2019 City Surf Series (CSS) and stop No. 6 of 7 on the 2019 World Surf League (WSL) Africa Tour, comprises the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 rated events for Men and Women and Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) 1,000 rated events for Men and Women aged 18-and-younger.

WHEN:  Thursday to Saturday, 20-22 June 2019

WHERE: Victoria Bay, George;

Vic Bay is a classic set-up on a small scale. This bay between steep tree-covered hills is probably only 200 metres wide. The west side of the bay, an established holiday getaway for the fortunate few who have a house at the water’s edge, produces perfect point break walls. You take off near a rock that sticks out the water. The wave walls away from you and down a shallow line of rocks. The bigger waves angle further away from the rocks and into the middle of the beach. Best in a four- to six-foot south to southwest swell and glassy or offshore (northwest to southwest wind) conditions. Handles light south to southeast winds.

WHO:  More than 100 of the country’s top open and junior surfers and a handful of international campaigners. The top seeds in each event are:

Men

1          Matthew McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay)

2          David Van Zyl (Glenashley)

3          Adin Masencamp (Strand)

4          Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay)

5          Jordan Lawler (Australia)

Women

1          Leilani McGonagle (Costa Rica)

2          Zoe McDougall (Hawaii)

3          Rachel Presti (Germany)

4          Bianca Buitendag (Victoria Bay)

5         Justine Dupont (France)

6         Nicole Pallet (Durban)

Junior Men

1          Luke Slijpen (Llandudno)

2          Eli Beukes (Kommetjie)

3          Luke Thompson (Durban)

4          Max Elkington (Kommetjie)

Junior Women

1          Ceara Knight (Kommetjie)

2          Zoë Steyn (East London)

3          Kayla Nogueira (uMhlanga)

4          Sne Makhubu (Durban)

FORMAT:  Heats consist of four surfers with the top two in each heat advancing to the next round until four remain to contest the final in each division.

Final will take place on Saturday 22 June and the event will be streamed live on the WSL Facebook page – https://web.facebook.com/wslqs/

STATUS:  The QS1000 Men’s and Women’s divisions, as well as the JQS1000 Junior Men’s and Junior Women’s events, are sanctioned by the WSL Africa regional office. Each competitor earns points based on their final position in the event. Those points count towards the crowning of the annual WSL Africa champions.

The points earned in the men’s and women’s events also count towards the international World Surf League Qualifying Series rankings, which are used to determine which surfers qualify for, and receive preferential seeding, in high priority WSL events worldwide.

The points earned in junior men’s and women’s events count towards the selection of the squad of four men and two women who represent the WSL Africa region at the annual WSL World Junior Championship in Australia every January.

Surfing South Africa (SSA) – the national controlling body for the sport of surfing, sanctions all surfing events hosted in South Africa.

PRIZE-MONEY:  A total of R90,000 in prize money is on offer

QS1,000 Men:          R30,000

QS1,000 Women:    R24,000

JQS1,000 Men:        R20,000

JQS1,000 Women:  R16,000

PRODUCTION: The Vic Bay Classic is produced and hosted by Accelerate Sport. The executive producer is Edward Gregory.

WSL Africa Operations Manager Colin Fitch is the Tour Manager and the Contest Director.

MAYOR WELCOMES ALL TO THE KNYSNA OYSTER FESTIVAL

The wait for the Knysna Oyster Festival is over, with the fun kicking off this week on Friday 21 June. “We have been waiting with growing excitement for the festival to arrive,” said Knysna Executive Mayor Mark Willemse. “Now that it’s finally here, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all our visitors. I know that some of you have travelled far to be here, and I know that you, together with our locals, will enjoy everything these ten days have to offer.”

The town is expecting an influx of runners, cyclists and other sportspeople. “I wish all participants in the upcoming sporting events luck,” said Willemse. “I am sure that your hard training and natural abilities will carry you over the finish line. I hope that you reach your goal, but that you also take in the natural beauty of your surroundings and enjoy your race.”

“Many of us are looking forward to the food, wine and entertainment events,” he continued. “You can be sure that your taste buds will be tingling, your palate will be pirouetting, and your other senses will be savouring every flavour of the festivities – festivities that will be served with a distinct local flavour.”

The Knysna Oyster Festival is driven purely by local buy-in this year. “As we’re not restricted by the stipulations imposed by a naming sponsor, the locals have taken back which is, essentially, their festival,” Willemse explained. “Knysna Municipality has been providing assistance where we can, but local business has come on board in terms of sponsorship and our local residents have employed their considerable initiative and expertise to present the world-class items on this year’s program. Thank you to all the organisers, sponsors and associated organisations for ensuring that the festival continues. I know that your efforts can only lead to the success of the Knysna Oyster Festival.”

With events taking place throughout the greater Knysna municipal area, this proves to be the most innovative, inspired and inclusive festival yet. “We are all looking forward to having loads of fun with family and friends – old and new – this year,” Willemse concluded. “Make the most of it! Be sure to visit www.knysnaoysterfestival.co.za to view the full program of events and to find out where you can still get your tickets to join the fun.”

The Knysna Oyster Festival takes place from 21 to 30 June 2019. Visit www.knysnaoysterfestival.co.za for more information.

Picture: Knysna Municipal Manager Dr Sitembele Vatala, Director Planning & Economic Development Marlene Boyce and Knysna Executive Mayor, Mark Willemse toasting the 36th Knysna Oyster Festival.

MONC Business Continues – and Knysna Ratepayers Challenge DA Hierarchy

Another ‘Motion of No Confidence’ (MONC) – the third the Knysna Council has considered in less than two weeks – was proposed at a Special Council Meeting on Tuesday 11 June. This time the motion targeted Deputy Mayor Ricky Van Aswegen (COPE).

After a secret ballot there were no less than nine abstentions. Of the eleven remaining ballots, eight councillors voted for van Aswegen’s removal and three against. The motion was carried, and a short while later ANC Councillor Aubrey Tsengwa was voted in as Deputy Mayor.
Only 12 days earlier DA Mayor Mark Willemse had survived the MONC brought against him, when a secret ballot brought a result of twelve votes to seven in his favour, with one spoiled vote.
This count meant that aside from the seven DA Caucus members who had put forward the motion, and thus presumably voted for his removal, plus the spoiled ballot, all the other councillors- including those of opposition parties – had voted for Willemse to retain his mayoral position.
Meanwhile, on the same day, Speaker Georlene Wolmarans lost the MONC against her by eleven votes to seven, with two spoiled ballots.
When nominations for a new speaker were called for, the ANC nominated Mertle ‘Titi’ Gombo. Quite unexpectedly, the DA nominated the just-ousted Georlene Wolmarans to go back into the speaker position.
Titi Gombo won by eleven votes to eight, with one ballot paper spoilt.

Asked for comment on the MONC against the Mayor, the Knysna Ratepayers Association issued the following hard-hitting statement.
“Michelle Wasserman and the six DA caucus members’ ill-considered motion of no confidence against Mark Willemse has backfired horribly, leaving them out in the cold and adding to the instability and uncertainty that Knysna has suffered since 2016, mostly due to factional battles in the DA and constant interference from regional DA leaders such as Jaco Londt, and provincial DA leader Bonginkosi Madikizela.
“That the motion was defeated by an overwhelming majority of 12 to 7 leaves us wondering why Councillor Wasserman steered the caucus into such a suicidal and reckless venture. Regardless of what Wasserman and Co were hoping to achieve, it ended in a predictable and humiliating defeat, and certainly does not inspire confidence in their ability to govern.

“We have full confidence in Mayor Mark Willemse to lead our town. The new Speaker, Councillor Gombo, has earned our respect through her impeccable conduct in Council, and we trust that she will perform her duties with honour and impartiality.
“We trust in Mayor Mark to successfully lead the town in cooperation with councillors who have Knysna’s best interests at heart, regardless of their political affiliation.”

Meanwhile, DA Western Cape Provincial Leader Bonginkosi Madikizela did not hold back when, soon after the failed MONC against Willemse, he issued the following statement entitled:-“DA to assume opposition role in Knysna”
It reads: “Following today’s failed Motion of No Confidence in Knysna Mayor Mark Willemse, who has been supported and kept in power by the ANC, the DA has been left with no option other than to assume an opposition role within the municipality. This was a difficult decision, but necessary in the best interest of the town. In the process, the ANC opted to institute a simultaneous Motion of No Confidence in the DA Speaker, which was supported by the ANC and other opposition parties.
“The DA will pursue all avenues within the party’s constitution to hold both Councillor Peter Myers and Mayor Mark Willemse to account.
“Despite the DA’s best efforts to implement its manifesto and the will of the voters, we have been met by two of our own councillors who refuse to uphold the party’s internal rules and regulations.
“The actions of Mayor Willemse is a disregard and in violation of the DA’s internal processes. They are a law unto themselves and risk ungovernability in Knysna, which sets a dangerous precedent that must be dealt with swiftly.
“Both were elected on a DA election ticket, are DA members and are subject to DA regulations. They continue to ignore the leadership of the party, their fellow DA councillors and the DA regulations.
“We respect the processes and outcomes of today’s council and will continue to support the DA councillors who, from the opposition benches, will fight to restore the trust of the Knysna residents.”

RATEPAYERS RESPOND TO DA’S ‘OPPOSITION’ CLAIM.

Incensed by the above statement and the goings on during the Special Council Meeting on 11 June, Knysna Ratepayers have come out with blazing guns against the DA hierarchy. On Tuesday afternoon they issued the following statement:-
“The Knysna DA’s robot caucus of seven reached dizzying new heights of farce at today’s special council meeting when a DA Councillor asserted that because the official opposition is generally awarded the chairmanship of the MPAC committee, that chairmanship should go to the DA.
“There are currently nine DA councillors, eight ANC councillors and three councillors from smaller parties. Last time we checked, nine is still bigger than eight. The DA still has a majority on Council. The ANC is still the official opposition, not the DA.
“And here is where the plot thickens. Out-of-town DA party bosses have said that because DA Mayor Mark Willemse recently overcame a DA-sponsored vote of no confidence with the support of the ANC, he is no longer a member of the DA, and must, therefore, be an ANC mayor.
“Of course, that’s utter nonsense.  Willemse is a member of the DA unless and until he is removed in accordance with the DA’s own formal, lengthy procedures. Even members of today’s new, increasingly-Leninist DA are still entitled to due process.
“Willemse has steadfastly withstood the out-of-town party bosses’ smear campaign and has prevailed in all of the unfounded disciplinary proceedings brought against him to date. So Mark Willemse is still Knysna’s DA mayor, Peter Myers is still a DA councillor, and the DA is not the official opposition. That’s an incontrovertible fact.
“But the DA is bent on putting personal loyalties and party discipline ahead of service delivery. It’s new-found penchant for faulty maths and fake news are hollowing out its support town-wide. If the DA’s robot caucus of seven continues this charade, the party’s narrow margin on Council may evaporate.”

SEARCH FOR CLINTON BLAAUW

The family of Clinton Blaauw is desperately looking for a clue as to his whereabouts – this after he has been missing since Friday 24 May.
Clinton (21) resides with his sister Henelie Boer, on Luthango Street in Smutsville. She says that he left for work at 8am on the morning of his disappearance, excited about starting his new job at Greeffs Butchery in Sedgefield.
Later in the day, when one of his work colleagues popped round to find him, Henelie discovered that he hadn’t arrived at the butchery. He didn’t come home that night, either, but she believed he had gone to stay with a friend in Smutsville, as he was inclined to do, so she didn’t think anything was wrong.
“He has many friends in Smutsville, and he likes to spend time with them,” she told us.
But as days passed and more and more of his friends came around to the house, looking for Clinton, she realised that no-one had seen him since the 24th.
She reported the matter to SAPS and, with the assistance of other family members, started searching for the young man.
Eventually, a neighbour came forward and told them that she had met with Clinton at the ‘hiking spot’ on the Knysna side of Sedgefield on the day of his disappearance. She said that he had told her he was waiting for ‘work transport’ – which the family thought strange as he was supposed to be working in Sedgefield. Later the same day a relative bumped into him outside ‘Brito’s’ near the Knysna Taxi Rank, and another saw him in Checkers about an hour later – in both instances he told them that he was ‘waiting for his boss’.
The last sighting of him that they know of was at about 9pm, when he was seen walking alone along the road between Knysna Hospital and KwikSpar. They have not seen or heard of him since.
“He does not have a phone,” explained Vemesia Galant, his cousin, “Though the neighbour who saw him at the hiking spot said she thought she saw him talking on one – we have no idea whose it was or what the number is.”
Asked whether he might be visiting someone in Knysna she was very doubtful.
“He hasn’t got any friends there,” she said, “He always stays in Smutsville – either at home or with his friends. If he goes into Knysna it is always just for the day.”
She also said that nobody in the family had any idea who he was referring to as his ‘boss’.
The family is hoping that if the word spreads someone will come forward with information. “If anyone has seen him or heard where he is, please call me on 084 4123 636 or the police.”
SAPS Knysna can be contacted on 044 302 6687. The investigating officer of the case is Warrant Officer Peterson 074 041 2721.

‘MONC’ RUFFLES FEATHERS

Whilst local politics were relatively quiet in the build up to the Provincial and National elections, it seems that now that particular voting process is done and dusted, the next season of Knysna Council’s ‘Game of Thrones’ has begun.
This with a Motion of No Confidence (MONC) against Knysna Mayor Mark Willemse set to be heard at Thursday’s Council Meeting.

After having been left alone for a few months the DA Mayor is evidently back on the chopping block, after a surprise move by seven of the nine councillors in the DA Caucus (Cllr Michelle Wasserman, Cllr Donovan Pofadder, Cllr Levael Davis, Cllr Georlene Wolmarans, Cllr Sibusiso Kwinana, Cllr Luzuko Tyokolo and Cllr Cathy Weideman) who have submitted notice of a MONC against him.
The Knysna Ratepayers Association is incensed about this motion, and have issued a strongly-worded statement as follows.

“Knysna residents are again being treated to the unedifying spectacle of remote-controlled DA councillors trying to get rid of Mayor Mark Willemse by bringing a Motion of No Confidence (“MONC”) against him. Although the councillors claim (in a press release) that “this is not the result of any instruction from the leadership structures of the DA”, the history behind this tells a different story—it is clear that DA party bosses in Cape Town are again interfering in Knysna’s governance. Their motive: in June 2018 Willemse, a DA Councillor, was voted in by a coalition of the ANC, a minority of DA councillors, and independent councillors to replace former DA Mayor Eleanor Bouw-Spies. Some party bosses have never forgiven Mark (Willemse) for putting the interests of the town and its residents ahead of party loyalty.
“This week’s notice of intention to introduce a MONC against Willemse was signed by DA Councillor Michelle Wasserman and seconded by DA councillor Levael Davis. As far as the councillors’ stated motivation is concerned, the notice simply says: “The Executive Mayor has not in the view of Council performed his duties satisfactorily.” Is that a motivation? If you google “define: motivation” you will find the following: a set of facts and arguments used in support of a proposal.” Councillor Wasserman’s motivation is either a masterpiece of brevity and conciseness, or no motivation at all. You decide.
“In the unlikely event that the MONC carries, and in the even less likely event that the DA caucus can muster the votes from the entire Council to elect a new mayor, the fortunate beneficiary is likely to be none other than the DA’s own Michelle Wasserman—the author of the MONC to remove Mayor Willemse. Ironically, Wasserman was not elected to this Council, but was parachuted in to replace Willemse almost a year ago, if the DA could force him out as mayor. Although she was elected Ward 9 councillor in 2011, she left her ward in the lurch when she resigned in 2015, opening the door to current Ward 9 Councillor (and Mayor) Willemse, who had to pick up the pieces, and has since proved his mettle and earned the admiration and support of residents from all of Knysna’s disparate communities.”

The press release the Ratepayers quote was sent out earlier in the day by Councillor Michelle Wasserman on behalf of the seven councillors. It gives the following reasons for the MONC in the current Knysna Mayor.

1. The Democratic Alliance’s 2016 Manifesto set out the DA’s plan and promise of what DA-run local governments would deliver. Despite repeated requests from the caucus that he do so, Cllr Willemse has not made any effort to use the DA manifesto as a basis for prioritisation and planning for Knysna Municipality.
2. Cllr Willemse has not shown political leadership and is not providing strategic direction to Knysna Municipality’s administration. Consequence management has also not been implemented during his tenure as Executive Mayor.
3. Cllr Willemse has lost credibility amongst councillors, officials and members of the public who perceive him as being unable to make his own decisions and being “remote controlled” by Cllr Peter Myers.
4. Cllr Willemse does not take the concerns and advice of members of the DA caucus (other than Cllr Peter Myers) seriously and has repeatedly either neglected to bring matters to the caucus or ignored the needs of the community that are brought to the table by members of the DA caucus. One of the most recent examples of this was our request to Cllr Willemse to timeously consult with communities regarding the installation of water meters. This request was ignored and the result was the service delivery protests which closed the N2 and negatively affected the whole town.
5. On 6 June 2018 Cllr Willemse, together with the ANC, voted out the approved DA Mayor. He then accepted the nomination for the position of Executive Mayor despite not being properly approved by the DA to do so and was voted into that position by the ANC.
6. In September 2018 Cllr Willemse participated in the Democratic Alliance’s selection process for the position of Executive Mayor for Knysna Municipality. Despite participating in the process, he elected to reject its outcome when he was not chosen as the successful candidate.
The release continues:
The decisions to request Cllr Willemse to resign and to submit a MONC against him were made by the seven of us personally and are not the result of any instruction from the leadership structures of the DA. We have, in terms of the DA’s Federal Constitution, requested that the DA’s Federal Executive approve our MONC and we await its response.
There is an argument circulating on social media that Cllr Willemse “followed his voters’ mandate” when he voted with the ANC to oust DA Executive Mayor, former Cllr Bouw-Spies, and accept the position of Executive Mayor. This argument is manifestly unsound. How was this mandate given when hardly any of the residents of his ward were aware of what was happening until after it had happened?
DA Mayors are required to implement the local government manifesto of the DA. In practice, this means that the Mayor must ensure that DA policies and the manifesto inform municipal policies and budgets through the IDP and budget process plan. Cllr Willemse makes no secret of the fact that he does not, and will not, take direction from the DA manifesto. This means that what people voted for in 2016 is not what they are getting.
Knysna residents might feel that they do not care if Cllr Willemse implements the DA manifesto or not, as long as his planning and prioritisation is in the best interests of the town. Therein lies a second problem: if Cllr Willemse has a plan of his own then we, members of his caucus, are not aware of it.
We have seen the petition initiated by local residents against our MONC which states that “after many years of neglecting our Knysna Town, Cllr Willemse got things going again”. We question what Cllr Willemse has done to “get things going again”. The projects which are currently rolling out, for example the Charlesford Scheme and the Knysna CBD upgrade were initiated prior to Cllr Willemse’s tenure.
What role has Cllr Willemse played in implementing the projects identified by the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative (GRRI)? When we asked Cllr Willemse if anyone in the municipality was taking responsibility for ensuring the implementation of the GRRI projects, specifically the revival of the Choo Tjoe steam train (which is vital for tourism as well as the reduction of exorbitant waste transportation costs) and the building of a by-pass, he did not know.
Seven out of the nine DA councillors have decided that we cannot allow this situation to continue. We anticipate that Cllrs Willemse and Myers will join hands with the party that voted them into power and this will mean that Knysna Municipality may soon be governed by the ANC. But the truth of the matter, if you look at the facts, is that Knysna Municipality has not been governed by the Democratic Alliance since 6 June 2018.
The Mayor himself has responded in detail to Wasserman’s press release – see his statement on page 3.

CEMETERY TO REOPEN

Knysna Municipality is delighted to announce that it has successfully, and by mutual agreement, resolved the property dispute around the Sedgefield Cemetery. Knysna Executive Mayor, Mark Willemse commended the Legal Services department and Ward 1 Councillor Levael Davis for their pursuit and determination to settle this matter.
Willemse explained that the journey the municipality went through in order to retain the land was a difficult process. “The cemetery was closed in November 2016 as a result of a High Court Order obtained by New Line Investments (Pty) Ltd, Avieprop Developments (Pty) Ltd and Aviemore Home Owners Association. In July 2017, Council resolved to seek a declaratory order from the High Court confirming ownership of the piece of land.
“I am happy that this matter has been resolved. Sedgefield residents will soon be able to utilise the burial ground on the land,” Willemse concluded.
Davis said this is a victory for Sedgefield’s residents. “I want to thank the dedicated municipal officials for handling this matter and for bearing with my persistence. Sedgefield residents will benefit hugely, saving on funerals costs and no longer needing to transport their deceased loved ones to other areas. It will most certainly also ease the healing process.”
The municipality will inform residents once everything has been finalised and new burials may commence