24th November 2017
Dear Observatory Residents,
Forgive me for writing a rather long email but these are extraordinary circumstances.
Attached to this email are three files. Two pdf files contain lawyers’ letters sent to the former Chair of the OCA Committee and the acting chair of the outgoing OCA Committee, threatening both individuals if we go ahead with any meetings to inform members about the irregularities identified at the OCA AGM elections. Both letter contain contested claims and both letters threaten the two individuals names with costs should the plaintiffs go ahead with a court interdict. The three plaintiffs are three members elected at the OCA AGM on the 31st, where a range of possible irregularities were identified. The third file is a pdf file containing a recent email from Theo Kruger regarding the OCA Special General Meeting taking place on the 28th November.
This communication attempts to explain the background to the series of emails you will have received:
- A notice from Carolyn Neville (outgoing Chair) sent on the 6th November calling a re-run of the AGM for the 28th November
- A notice from Tauriq Jenkins (outgoing Acting Chair) send on the 21st November calling a Special General Meeting for the 28th November (the notice is attached at the foot of this mail)
- Finally, some of you (who are OCA members) will have received an email from Theo Kruger, who presents himself as the chairperson of the OCA elected at the AGM and questioning the Special General Meeting called for the 28th November 2017 and claiming it to be an ordinary OCA Committee meeting.
Mr Kruger is entirely wrong in his presentation of the facts relating to this matter.
The history to this is as follows:
- On the 31st October, the OCA held its AGM and a new committee was elected to serve the OCA members and Obs community. The AGM was characterised by the influx of a large number of new members who signed up on the night who were not known to the outgoing committee.
- The committee elected at the AGM comprised 11 members as follows:
Chair – Theo Kruger;
Deputy Chair – Dale Forbes;
Treasurer- Trish Sanderson Smith;
Secretary – Ebrahim Abader;
Large developments – Leslie London;
Architecture and Heritage Committee – Tertius van Zyl;
Arts/Sports/Culture – Tauriq Jenkins;
Transport – Conrad Hicks;
Communications – Trevor Hughes;
Ward Representative – Tauriq Jenkins;
Business Forum – Olivia Andrews
TRUP – Marc Turok
- After the election a number of irregularities were identified in the sign up of members on the night, their eligibility to vote and in the eligibility of the candidates. For example, these irregularities included lack of details on addresses, incorrect addresses, or location of addresses outside the OCA boundaries. One member gave as their address a site that was a vacant construction site where a building had just been demolished. There were other alleged issues about new members being welcomed to sign up long after the AGM had commenced, members having their membership fees paid on their behalf so that they could sway the vote and a number of other reported irregularities.
- Because of these concerns, after the AGM, the outgoing chair, Carolyn Neville, wrote to the incoming chair, Theo Kruger, and secretary, Himmy Abader, to request help in clarifying the details of contested membership but received no response from them. To this date, they have not responded.
- When it emerged that up to 17 of the 59 members who attended had some question about their membership and may not have been eligible to vote, Carolyn consulted the old OCA committee and based on prima facie evidence of irregularities, declared the previous AGM vote null and void, calling for a new AGM vote on the 28th November.
- Her notice went out on the 6th November, notifying OCA members of the repeat AGM for the 28th.
- On the 15th November, Carolyn Neville received a lawyer’s letter (attached) sent by three members of the committee elected at the AGM on the 31st October – Mr Kruger, Mr Abader and Mr van Zyl. The letter threatened Ms Neville with liability for costs of an interdict should go ahead with the AGM. Neither the outgoing committee, nor the newly elected incoming committee were consulted about this legal action. I urge you to read the lawyer’s letter carefully to understand that the lawyers acting for the three have danced on eggshells around the fact that there may ‘arguably’ have been members who did not qualify to vote.
- Following the letter, Ms Neville resigned from the OCA Committee and agreed to the demands of the lawyer’s letter that she would not convene a repeat AGM.
- The Deputy Chair of the outgoing committee, Tauriq Jenkins, then assumed the position of Acting Chair of the outgoing committee and notified OCA members of a Special General Meeting to be held on the 28th November where the evidence relating to the disputed AGM could be put to OCA members to discuss a way forward. The purpose was to provide OCA members with the facts so that OCA members would be able to decide how to deal with the dispute over the AGM.
- The outgoing committee met with the incoming committee on the evening of the 23rd to discuss Tuesday’s meeting. It was agreed at the meeting that the Special General Meeting would go ahead on Tuesday 28th at which the facts of the disputed AGM would be put to the meeting and an independent chair would be requested from the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance to chair the SGM.
- At no stage in the meeting last night was there any agreement or notion voiced that the SGM could not go ahead. The majority of members at the meeting supported the SGM going ahead. All three of the plaintiffs in the matter against Ms Neville were present and did not state any refusal to attend such a meeting, nor that the status of the meeting on the28th should be changed from an SGM to an ordinary Committee meeting.
- We left the meeting believing we have found a way forward to resolve a difficult situation facing the OCA and the Obs community.
- This morning, however, the 24th November, the Acting Chair of the outgoing committee, Tauriq Jenkins, received a lawyer’s letter from the same three members of the committee elected at the AGM on the 31st October, threatening the same consequences as they threatened Carolyn Neville with – that he would be held liable for the costs of an interdict should the SGM go ahead. The same legalist language characterises the admission that some votes could ‘arguably’ have been disqualified from membership.
- That letter is attached for information.
- The action of the three members in seeking legal threats (against both Ms Neville and Mr Jenkins) was taken entirely in their personal capacity since no mandate was secured from any structure of the OCA, whether the outgoing or the incoming committee, nor any OCA members’ meeting.
- In fact, neither the secretary nor the chair of the newly elected committee had communicated at all with other members of the newly elected committee about convening a Committee meeting after the AGM let alone about initiating legal action.
- Further, Mr Kruger, then set up a mailchimp distribution list in the name of the OCA without consulting the management committee or the person elected to the Communications portfolio at the October AGM. He then sent communication directly to members. This appears to be an action he took so that he could send out the email claiming that the meeting on the 28th is an OCA Committee meeting. He did so without consulting the rest of the OCA committee. This is an email that some of the OCA members might have received.
- It is very important to understand that the difference between an OCA Special General Meeting and an OCA Committee meeting is that you, as a member, can vote in a SGM, but in an ordinary Committee meeting, you cannot vote.
So, firstly what Mr Kruger is trying to do is to prevent you from having a vote at Tuesday’s meeting. Secondly, he is doing so in complete contradiction to what was agreed by a majority at a meeting attended by 9 of the 11 Committee members last night.
- It is unclear what the three plaintiffs who have run to the lawyers have to hide if they believe the voting at the AGM was above board. Let the Community hear the evidence and let the people decide …!
- Please remember that when you voted for a Committee for the OCA at the AGM, you were voting for a management committee that would fulfil the objectives as outlined in the OCA constitution which states that “The affairs of the Association shall be administered by a MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE.” The constitution does not say the affairs will be run by the Chairperson, the Secretary and their mate. It does not give any powers to a Chairperson to decide on behalf of the Management Committee, nor to an executive to make decisions on behalf of the Committee. It most certainly does not permit a cabal of three committee members who believe they can intimidate and bully other committee members through lawyers’ letters to make decisions for you.
So, the majority of committee members on both the outgoing committee and the incoming committee, believe that it is in the interests of all that a transparent and open airing of the issues be possible so that Observatory residents can have confidence in their Civic. This will take place at the Special General Meeting which will take place on the 28th November at the Observatory Civic at 6pm. The original email invitation with the agenda is appended at the bottom of this email.
I urge you therefore to attend the meeting on Tuesday where you can have a say in the kind of Civic you want for Observatory. Copies of the OCA Constitution will be available and are on the OCA website at https://obs.org.za/observatory-civic-association-constitution/.
Should you wish to write directly to the OCA in support of holding the SGM, please do so by emailing Mr Theo Kruger at Theo Kruger email@example.com and copy Mr Tauriq Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We struggled long and hard for a democratic South Africa. We should not permit undemocratic practices to capture your Civic Association for private benefit. We most certainly do not want to let people get away with thinking it is ok that use of intimidation and lawyer’s letters are the way to run a Civic.
Convener OCA Large Development Group
Here are the two Lawyers letters received
The email from Theo – this is a new domain set up and a new Mailchimp Account – please note nothing you receive from email@example.com or anything from the obscivic.org.za domain is official and to be trusted. Although Theo sneakily use the firstname.lastname@example.org address to add to the illusion of being official.
Email from Tauriq Jenkins below
From: Observatory Civic Association [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Observatory Civic Association
Sent: 21 November 2017 04:29 PM
To: Leslie London <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: SGM 28 November 2017
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