A Glimmer of light at the end of the circus tunnel

from Edwin Angless –

Report back on my meeting of June 10 with interested parties regarding one of the circus issues.

Over the last two months, I have put a lot of time into developing a relationship through regular emails, WhatsApp and in situ meetings with Dimitri, the owner of the circus tent. I have also devoted quite some time over the last 2 months to working with Mark Basson, the “on the ground” city official who is trying to resolve some of the issues around the circus. I managed to negotiate a deal whereby Dimitri would inform me as soon as he had removed all his possessions lying on the ground under and around the tent. Without this confirmation, Mark Basson felt that he could not send his cleaning team in to remove all the mounds of unsanitary rubbish surrounding and under the tent because Dimitri could then lay charges of theft against the council. For two months Dimitri has been coming up with reasons as to why he has not been able to complete the removal of his property from under the tent and grounds. I suspect that due to his tardiness, he was contacted by City’s legal department this past Friday to attend a meeting at the circus today to resolve this long outstanding matter.

Dimitri immediately invited me to attend the meeting as an observer representing the OCA and the local residents. I, in turn, invited Mark Basson to join in at the meeting. Interestingly enough, Mark apparently had not been informed by his colleagues in legal that the meeting was taking place.

Present at the meeting called for 2 pm today was myself, Mark and his supervisor (I think that’s her title) Toegiedah, JJ from the Fire Dpt, another City official whose name I did not get and two lawyers from Adriaans Attorneys – City’s legal team dealing with demolition orders. The lawyers arrived with a prepared affidavit hoping that Dimitri (who arrived 40 minutes late) would sign it and by so doing give City the rights to take down the tent at once and without the need of obtaining a court-issued demolition order. Dimitri flatly refused to sign, arguing that only his team of experienced riggers could ensure the tent coming down safely. He said the reason why this had not been done ages ago was that he would have to pay them R15k and he did not have that kind of money. He then requested that City foot the R15k bill, but City said they did not have the budget for such matters, especially when their fire department could take it down at no cost to the city. As a stalemate position had now been arrived at, I discarded my observer status hat and replaced it with my mediator hat.

The final compromise we reached was that by Wednesday eve of 12 June, Dimitri will have removed all his property from under and around the tent such that Mark Basson can send in his cleaning team on Thursday morning to remove all the rubbish leftover. By Friday 14 June at the close of business, Dimitri will have dismantled the entire tent and packed it neatly in a corner of the field. He then has until no later than July 30th to remove the packed up tent from the premises. I had to leave the meeting at this point (4.15pm). The lawyers then drafted all 3 these agreements into documents which I was informed an hour later by the lawyers that Dimitri had signed his agreement too. However, I have still not been able to get sight of the SIGNED docs.

I will report back again once there are any developments on the outstanding issues related to the circus, but I don’t foresee this as being in the near future, what with the City refusing to release any updates by claiming the remaining issues are subjudicae and not responding to the OCA’s PAIA submissions in any substantive way. (See article on PAIA applications by OCA)

Edwin Angless (OCA coms)

Sat 15th June UPDATE: Two problems have been encountered since I wrote this on Monday. 

1) Thursday was the first day of clean up and the City scoop truck duly arrived but after having scooped up only one pile of bricks and rubbish, the hydraulics of the scoop broke! (See picture). No doubt they will return soon with a fixed hydraulic system.

2) Friday came and went without any sign of Dimitri living up to his part of the bargain. However, on Saturday Dimitri had one of his men there painstakingly winching out of the ground each of the meter-long stakes that hold the supporting cables The tent still stands but maybe by Monday it could be down. If not, look forward to more legal wrangling if and when the City’s fire department comes to take it down next week.