Dear MEC Bredell,
There has been no further communication from yourself nor Mr. Paulse since our 3 May letter, requesting your intervention as offered in your 9 October 2020 letter.
We ask you again to provide any documentation you hold regarding Bitou’s intentions to act on the 72 disciplinary and criminal charges as recommended in the Forensic Investigation Report commissioned by yourself in 2019, charges which are deliberately being allowed to fade away.
We are concerned about prescription, recovery of funds, and a total lack of transparency to the disciplinary process which is required legislatively to be made public. We need to know precisely what is happening in order to brief our members, and Bitou refuses to divulge the requisite information, as per the attached 24 June refusal to our PAIA Part B.
We can only act if we know what is and is not happening. So when we receive the information, we can demand that Bitou Municipality proceed against the culprits for recovery of lost money with appropriate legal action, failing which we intend taking the necessary legal action ourselves because our council has totally failed to govern.
As promised, please provide any documents you hold without further delay.
Dear Mr. Paulse,
Thank you for your letter of 1 April 2021.
We filed PAIA Form B Internal Appeal on 25 March 2021 and have received no response within the allotted 30 days.
Will you please be so kind as to supply us with copies of the Implementation Plan and all documentation related to this matter in possession of your department?
cc: MEC Bredell
Dear MEC Bredell,
The Plett Ratepayers have been trying, without success, to get a copy of the Bitou Implementation Process Plan which was approved in Council in January 2020, and its progress reports in response to your Forensic Investigation Report.
It has been confirmed by DA Councillor Swart that the Implementation Process Plan and its progress reports have not been presented to Council during the last twelve months.
You advised in your attached letter of 9/10/2020, paragraph 6 that we should formally request by way of PAIA for the plan. We have done so and have received a refusal from the municipality (both documents are attached.)
It is obvious from the obfuscation and irrelevance of the “reasons” for refusal provided by the municipality that they do not intend to provide the information and will once again abuse the law to avoid openness and accountability. PAIA has become a dead-end street as a mechanism to obtain information.
You requested that we copy you and you would instruct your officials to liaise with the municipality in this regard and support our request. May we please ask you to do so?
We are very concerned about the almost complete breakdown of governance of the municipalityand have noted from the Irregular Expenditure reports that the same people mentioned in your forensic report are still receiving tenders and the same employees responsible for the irregularities continue awarding the tenders with impunity.
30 September 2020
WC Department of Local Government
We have still not received a copy of the Bitou Implementation Process Plan which we requested of you on 13 August 2020.
According to Government Gazette 37699 Municipal Regulations on Financial Misconduct Proceedings and Criminal Proceedings, which explains how a corruption report should be dealt with, we believe we are entitled to see the report.
Sub-regulation 15(1) saysthe municipal manager must table in council an information document on any alleged financial misconduct.If it is tabled in council, then it follows that it is public information.
Sub-regulation 16(2) says council must reporton all suspensions, disciplinary or criminal proceedings instituted in cases of financial misconduct in their annual report.This also implies it must be made public.
We look forward to receiving theBitou Implementation Plan from you without further delay.
13 August 2020
WC Department of Local Government
Ever since it was announced that an implementation plan to deal with the corruption revealed by your forensic investigation was drawn up by several legal firms on behalf of Bitou council and presented to yourself for approval, we have been unable to obtain a copy.
It is of great concern to us that the malaise within Bitou Municipality be dealt with swiftly and efficiently. But we find ourselves in a position where we do not know what the plan is, nor are we obviously able to monitor the progress, if any.
It is our right to monitor the performance of our municipality. We acknowledge that the normal approach would be for us to apply to the High Court in terms of PAIA, but bitter experience tells us that that would result in only protracted litigation and it could be years before we receive the information we require now. Even our DA councilor, Bill Nel tells us he does not have a copy and I am sure he would appreciate one as well.
Under the circumstances, where your department is in possession of the information we need for the enforcement of our rights, we hereby request that your department supply us with same.