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OVERSTRAND MUNICIPALITY CHOOSES TO RELY UPON BIASED, INACCURATE AND UNSCIENTIFIC INFORMATION

Despite the fact that lawyers acting for the EMS Foundation, Cullinan and Associates, have provided the Overstrand Municipality with up-to-date, accurate, scientifically based information the Municipality has decided to proceed with their decision, relying largely upon conjecture and false allegations, to remove baboons from Pringle Bay village.

At no cost to the Overstrand Municipality or indeed the rate payers of Pringle Bay the village have been provided with a free service where vetted, Baboon Information Officers (BIOs) have kept detailed photographic evidence of the baboon troop as they make their way from their sleep sites to their foraging sites.

This historical daily journey takes them through the village where they are obviously distracted by the food that humans eat, especially the food left-overs that is easily obtained from the garbage exacerbated by the lack of effective waste management. Baboons are motivated by food, they spend most of the waking hours in search of food, of course they are going to help themselves to human food it is much easier than foraging for hours.

Since April 2023, the Baboon Information Officers have diligently followed this troop of baboons since April 2023 to make sure to try and limit any negative human contact and they have to keep a daily record of the baboons. This information is recorded digitally on numerous platforms and it is painstakingly analysed and saved.

The Kogelberg Villages Environmental Trustees (KVET) who train and employ the Baboon Information Officers have a helpline which is advertised on their website and social media platforms, for anyone in the village of Pringle Bay or Betty’s Bay to use and this has been in operation since April 2023.

Of course, this successful service brings into question the millions rands of ratepayers money that was, in our opinion, questionably spent on the baboon management company called Human Wildlife Solutions. The services that HWS offered Pringle Bay were not successful for the same reasons that they were not successful in Cape Town.

Section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act

The call for the 106(1) forensic investigation was instituted in December 2021 by a group of concerned Overstrand citizens and rate payers called, Together4Change. Together4Change alleged that the Overstrand Municipality failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that the contract or agreement with HWS was properly enforced and that its terms and conditions were adhered to.

The content of the media report published on the 2nd August 2023 by Netwerk24 and quoting Municipal Manager Dean O’ Neill, stated the following:

“After a year and a half’s investigation, the Overstrand Municipality has been cleared of allegations that its appointment of a service provider may have been illegal.

Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Anton Bredell agreed to institute a Section 106 investigation. Section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act of 2000 empowers the MEC for Local Government to request information or to appoint an investigator if he or she has reason be believe that “maladministration fraud, corruption or any other serious malpractice has occurred or is occurring in a municipality.

We are happy to confirm the investigation … was concluded and the outcome was communicated to the complainant. The investigation showed the municipality did not transgress any legislation with the appointment of HWS.”

Utilising the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), the EMS Foundation has discovered that no formal or in-depth forensic investigation was undertaken, instead Minister Bredell revealed that:

“In assessing the allegations made by Together4Change, in accordance with the applicable legislative prescripts and as part of the pre-investigation assessment required in terms of section 5 of the Western Cape Act, the Department engaged with the Municipality on the allegations. I am of the view that there is no basis which warrants that I initiate a formal investigation as contemplated by section 106(1) of the Systems Act read with section 5 to 7 of the Western Cape Act.”

Therefore, in our opinion, that the content of the article published by Network24 is inaccurate and could be misleading.

https://www.netwerk24.com/netwerk24/za/hermanus-times/nuus/council-exonerated-20230801-2

Presently the Overstrand Municipality, unconstitutionally and stubbornly refuses to meet with representatives from the Pringle Bay or Betty’s Bay community or the volunteers and civil society entities who are working altruistically and tirelessly to assist this villages. Instead, the Overstrand Municipality has chosen to rely upon outdated questionable data from HWS and the few residents who want baboons eradicated from the conservancy.

Due to the enormous amount of money that was spent on the services of Human Wildlife Solutions baboon management in the Overstrand Municipality, the EMS Foundation has taken the firm position that an independent oversight authority needs to be consulted one with an independent legal mandate to investigate the merits of the call for a 106 forensic investigation.

Image Credit: KVET

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