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9 March 2023 Statement: Legal action against Garden Route DM Municipal Manager a distraction from ongoing discussions between municipalities

Media Statement: Legal action against Garden Route DM Municipal Manager a distraction from ongoing discussions between municipalities

9 March 2023

On 8 March 2023, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Municipal Manager (MM), Mr Monde Stratu was ordered to appear before the Knysna Magistrate Court on 9 March 2023. A docket was opened regarding the treatment of properties belonging to the GRDM in the Annual Financial Statements of both the GRDM and Knysna Municipalities.

Both municipalities have, for years been engaged in discussions regarding the properties of the GRDM that are situated in the Knysna municipal area.

As the Executive Mayor of the GRDM, I am expressing my disappointment at how this matter is being handled by the law enforcement agencies and that it flies in the face of the fruitful discussions that are taking place between the two municipalities.

The Executive Mayor of Knysna, Councillor Aubrey Tsengwa has reiterated that both municipalities agreed not to declare any disputes, but to continue with discussions to find an amicable solution.

According to Mr Phineas Sebola, the Municipal Manager of Knysna, the Knysna Municipality did not even receive any legal documents related to the impending case against the GRDM MM. He believes that the matter does not need to go to court, as negotiations between the two municipalities are already proving to be productive.

Furthermore, Knysna Municipality took a resolution on 21 July 2021 to continue with engagements to find amicable resolutions in the spirit of cooperative governance. However, I am astounded that despite the ongoing discussions a criminal case was opened against the MM of GRDM.

A delegation from GRDM met with Knysna on 1 February 2023 to further discuss the properties in question and the meeting was very positive. Knysna Municipality delegation, led by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Alberto Marbi, Cllr Neil Louw, Cllr Susan Campbell and the Municipal Manager agreed to write an item to the Knysna Municipal Council and recommend a possible solution for these properties. It is extremely surprising that during or after deliberations, the information regarding a case opened against the GRDM MM was not disclosed.

I and the Executive Mayor of Knysna have agreed that this amounts to malicious prosecution marred with procedural flaws aimed at tainting the reputation of the two institutions and further embarrassing the MM of GRDM.

The Executive Mayor of Knysna and I have come to a mutual agreement that the actions being taken against the two institutions are an act of malicious prosecution. Furthermore, we have noted that there are significant procedural flaws in the process, with the intention to harm the reputations of these organisations and to cause further embarrassment to the MM of GRDM.

Issued by the GRDM Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen