Tuesday, July 9, 2019


Dear Readers,

          Calls for the Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane to be fired are getting louder and louder after a second court hearing found against one of her investigations.
          In his column in the Sunday Times headed “Mkhwebane is a public menace, not a public protector, and she must go" Barney Mthombothi wrote that Ramamphosa must make sure that parliament takes the necessary steps to remove her. A subsequent editorial in the same paper was headed: “This rogue investigator is what the public most need to be protected from.”
          If she must go so should Sune` Griessel who is in charge of the Western Cape Protector’s office in Cape Town, together with some of her useless staff.
          As far back as June 2017 I received an acknowledgement that my complaint to the Public Protector office in Pretoria had been received. I was trying to initiate an investigation into the way the Cape Town City Council had been wasting millions.
          For nearly four years I had personally documented, with my own pictures and posts on my blog, the way Council had been spending huge amounts on ineffective ways to try and keep the sand dunes in place above a municipal rubbish dump, next to the kite surfing beach at Witsands not far from Cape Point. The dump was closed more than 30 years ago, but there is still tons of plastic and other non-biodegradable material under the sand. The Council has been spending all this money to try and prevent this from getting washed into the sea.
          What I discover was that the Council’s net fences erected to ensure that the remains of the rubbish was always covered were getting blown away by the strong winds that are endemic to the area. Sometimes they were flattened as fast as they were put up. From time to time costly earth moving equipment was brought in to shift dunes around only to have the sand blown back to its original position.
This is how the ratepayer's money is being wasted
          At the end of last year Greg Oelofse, Cape Town’s Head of Environmental Policy told me that this maintenance work on the dunes would have to continue ad infinitum. What they had been doing had been successful because since 2006 none of the buried rubbish had been washed into the sea.
          What he neglected to mention was that in the last few years we have not had enough rain to wash anything into the sea.
          He was not in favour of vegetating the area with alien Port Jackson willow because in the unlikely event that they would be given permission to do this by the appropriate government department they would still have to spend money on an ongoing basis to make sure it did not spread to other areas.
          Meanwhile on the other side of the mountains above Witsands the lower slopes are covered in a forest of Port Jackson. They have been like this for more than 10 years and nobody has done anything about it.

          So what would be better – go on spending millions to try and keep the constant shifting sand in place at Witsands or plant Port Jackson? This would be self perpetuating and cost not a cent extra once planted. It already grows naturally in patches around the 19ha rubbish dump site and what’s more important is that it does not need any watering to get it going.
          My complaint to the Public Protector contained details from six of my posts about what has been going on at the dump site as well as links to the posts. Many of these included the replies I got from the councillors concerned as well City officials.
           But this was not good enough to even get the ace sleuths at the Public Protector’s Cape Town office started. A year after my complaint was received they were still trying to work out whether the “law allows your complaint to be investigated.”
           After I was told that my complaint had been shelved because I had not supplied enough information I came across a quote from the Public Protector herself that made nonsense of what the Cape Town office had been telling me. She said that even if her office is not provided with the evidence to support an allegation this did not stop it from being investigated.

          When I pointed this out to Griessel she phoned me and asked me to come to her office in the centre of Cape Town. I told her that I was not prepared to do this as it was quite a trek from where I live near Kommetjie. So she asked for my exact address as she said she had been visiting the township of Masiphumelele (Masi), which is in the same area, almost every week. When I gave it to her she undertook to come and see me at my home and made an appointment for the following week. About an hour before she was due to arrive somebody from her office phoned to say she would not be able to make it because the authorisation for the trip had not yet come through.
          Hers is such a humpty dumpty department that the office manager apparently needs an authorisation to travel from the centre of Cape Town to a place in the Southern suburbs. I told the caller to tell Griessel to tell me in an email what she wants me to give her. I never heard from her again.
Most of these claims didn't feature in my experience
          My response was to send her an email in which I told her that as head of the Western Cape office she sets an appalling example. “You told me among other things that your officer doesn’t deal with blogs. So you are evidently behind the times in that area of technology as well. Who does one complaint to about rotten service from your office?”
          While the City Council continues to blow money on a grand scale at an old rubbish dump site 40 000 Blacks live in Masi not far away, in what the Public Protector herself described as: “The most disgusting conditions I have seen in my life,” after she visited the township a couple of years ago.
P.S. Thanks Sune`Griessel and your staff for doing your bit to tarnish the already besmirched name of the Public Protector.

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