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Groenewald in the clear

Allegations of misconduct levelled against Overstrand Municipal Manager Coenie Groenewald were found to be without basis in a report by an independent investigator.

The report was scheduled to be considered by the Overstrand Council at its meeting on Wednesday 24 June.

Allegations of wasteful expenditure against Groenewald relates to a tender process dating back to 2007 and the litigation that followed. Anton Kruger, on behalf of a group referred to as LiberTAS, made the official complaint on Thursday 5 March.

In its complaint, LiberTAS claimed Groenewald demonstrated poor judgment in awarding a tender that incurred “great costs” to the ratepayer because of the court cases that followed the tender process.

In response to the allegations, Groenewald said the municipality did not incur any costs during its appeal, because it was paid for by Asla, one of the companies that took part in the tender process.

At a special council meeting of 9 March 2020, the Overstrand Council found no evidence to support allegations of misconduct against Groenewald, but decided an independent investigator must be appointed to investigate them (“Under Investigation”, Hermanus Times, 12 March 2020).

According to the report, published in the agenda for the June council meeting, Advocate Pieter-Schalk Bothma was appointed to investigate the allegations, assisted by Visagie Vos Attorneys of Cape Town.

In his report Bothma states there was no evidence found to support allegations of misconduct against the Municipal Manager, and recommended they be dismissed. In his closing notes Bothma pointed out Groenewald did not occupy the position of Municipal Manager between 1 April 2008 and 1 July 2012. “The concerns identified by LiberTAS in connection with the tender litigation cannot be attributed to Groenwald,” he wrote.

“I find no basis to support the allegations of misconduct. Accordingly, I recommend that the allegations of misconduct against Groenewald in this regard be dismissed.”

Bothma stated in his report he did not investigate a tender for management of water and sanitation services and the consequent litigation.

“Passing reference is made by Kruger in the correspondence of 5 March 2020 to other litigation concerning Water and Sanitation Services South Africa (Pty) Ltd,” he explained.

“However, no direct allegation is levelled against Groenewald in connection regarding that, and as LiberTAS elected not to meet with me or provide any further representations I am unable to investigate an unidentified complaint in connection with this.”

The report also details the various attempts to meet with Kruger.

From 14 May to 11 June Kruger postponed six meetings with Visagie Vos. LiberTAS was also invited to make written submissions but none were received. On Monday morning 22 June, a submission on behalf of LiberTAS was sent to Dudley Coetzee, Executive Mayor of the Overstrand, to be added to the agenda for the council meeting of 24 June. Coetzee confirmed the submission will not be added to the council meeting’s agenda, as Kruger had had “more than a month” to send in his submissions.

The Council meeting had not yet concluded at time of going to print.

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