OCA Committee response to Mr Kruger

4 December 2017

The Observatory Civic Association notes the statement released by Mr Theo Kruger to the Cape Times (4/12/17) – article quoted below – regarding the outcome of the Special General Meeting on 28th November at which an overwhelming and unanimous vote was taken by 200 Observatory residents and business owners to annul the previous AGM elections because of voting and nomination irregularities. Mr Kruger makes no mention in his statement of the fact that these irregularities were clearly presented to the meeting, and led to many questions from the floor to which he had no answers.

For example, when asked why he nominated one of his staff members for a Committee position at the AGM, when the staff member was not eligible, Mr Kruger claimed the person worked for his business partners in another business. However, the person nominated signed in as a resident using Mr Kruger’s phone number and address, and did not mention he was representing any business. It is unclear how Mr Kruger could have nominated someone who works for him who is not eligible for OCA membership let alone to be on the Committee. There were numerous other irregularities raised which could not be answered by Mr Kruger.

So, far from it being the case that Mr Kruger was ‘removed’ as chair, he was never validly elected in the first place – since the entire voting and nomination process was found to be flawed and the elections annulled.

Mr Kruger’s claim to be working to promote the City’s policy on densification as a means of realising a sustainable future for its people requires some unpacking. If that were the case, one would expect to see a track record of working on inclusive housing projects in Mr Kruger’s portfolio. However, that is not the case. If you look at the projects that his business has undertaken, you will find it hard to locate any developments that promote inclusive or affordable housing.

For example, Swift Studios in Salt River is listed as one of his completed projects. The Unit sale prices for Swift Studios in 2017 so far have ranged from R1.5 million to R2.96 million. This is hardly what one would consider housing for low-income residents and will not assist the City’s objectives for densification. So, talk is cheap but the apartments Mr Kruger designs are not.

Moreover, it is misleading to imply that the OCA is resisting engaging with the question of inclusive housing in Cape Town. In fact, the OCA has proactively invited Reclaim the City to address Observatory community members over issues of inclusive housing and has supported some of Reclaim the City’s campaigns around inclusive housing.  Mr Kruger was present at one of those meetings, so he knows well that the OCA is grappling with these issues. The difference is that we are not trying to make money out of it, so we don’t have to make propaganda.

However, what the OCA does not support are badly designed buildings, that are inconsistent with surrounding heritage context and that are disrespectful of the receiving environment. In this, we are merely applying the City’s own policies on Urban Design and Heritage. Mr Kruger knows well enough that the reasons for the delays in approval of his own developments have much more to do with the lack of skilled heritage design input to his plans – a gap which Heritage Western Cape instructed him to remedy. Blaming such delays on the OCA is patently self-serving as is Mr Kruger’s unwillingness of to recognize his personal financial self-interest in all matters covered in his press release.

Lastly, Mr Kruger’s stated intent to provide leadership in “advancing the interests of Observatory and its community” is not supported by his track record. He attended a meeting held on 23rd November comprising 9 of the Executive Committee elected at the AGM. At this meeting, the majority agreed that it would be appropriate to hold a Special General Meeting (SGM) on 28th November in order to inform OCA members of the facts surrounding the disputed AGM. However, the very next morning, without consulting other meeting attendees, he issued a lawyer’s letter threatening the Acting Chair of the outgoing meeting in an attempt to stop the SGM. Even one of his co-applicants to the letter, claims that Mr Kruger did not consult him over the issue of the legal threat. Moreover, at no time did Mr Kruger seek to explain the discrepancies in the AGM voting – rather, all he did was try to stop the information coming out. This is leadership by fiat. This is leadership that seeks to control by threats of legal intimidation. This is not the kind of leadership a Civic needs or wants – and the Observatory community made that clear on the 28th November’s SGM.

We will continue to build Observatory as a vibrant, diverse, funky, and reflective community. This scandalous attempt to undermine democratic practice has galvanized residents and the OCA will be incorporating this energy into various projects and activities that will be far more practically valuable than all the fancy but meaningless words littered across Mr Kruger’s press release.

The Cape Times Article

Developer retreats from civic association confrontation

A PROPERTY developer, accused of trying to infiltrate the Observatory Civic Association (OCA) by allowing illegitimate members to vote him into being chairperson in a bid to fast-track development deals, says he is backing down.

Theo Kruger, the director of TwoFiveFive, was accused of being elected “irregularly” as chairperson of the association at an annual general meeting on October 31. He was subsequently removed on November 28.

Kruger’s backing off and not contesting his removal was welcomed by residents and OCA members.

OCA executive committee member Leslie London said: “He (Kruger) did not have to go that mile. Instead he should have resolved the difference when he was alerted to the irregularities. It’s clear he had lots of options but chose to do what suits him.”

According to interim chairperson Tauriq Jenkins, Kruger was removed because of concerns that he was elected irregularly.

Jenkins said some of the voters were not eligible to vote as they had no physical and business addresses in Observatory, but Kruger said TwoFiveFive has an office in Lower Main Road in Observatory; he has a property in the area; and has been an active member for more than a year.

To further avoid a potential conflict of interest, Kruger intentionally abstained from standing for a position in architecture and heritage at the OCA, which would have given him an advantage to comment or approve architectural documentation.

Kruger told the Cape Times his election was neither unconstitutional, unethical or unlawful.

“Unfortunately, and in spite of numerous attempts at fostering a spirit of co-operation, TwoFiveFive has experienced much resistance from the OCA in realising a more progressive and integrated suburb,” said Kruger.

He said the resistance was by way of “unnecessarily lengthy procedural delays”. Kruger said his removal was “disappointing”.

He would continue to participate in the OCA with a view “towards achieving an integrated and progressive Observatory for all”.

“I believe that I can add a great deal of value to the association in the future,” he said.