Vatala’s resignation bittersweet for KRA
KNYSNA - Knysna Municipality announced the resignation of former municipal manager, Dr Sitembele Vatala, on Tuesday 24 August, four days after receiving his resignation letter. Vatala will be appointed as the new municipal manager of the Central Karoo District Municipality, and his resignation from Knysna is with immediate effect.
Vatala has been the subject of disciplinary proceedings since early last year, after the Knysna Ratepayers Association (KRA) and the Knysna Council brought complaints against him involving properties worth more than R60-million, as well as a housing tender of more than R30-million that he allegedly wrongly awarded. This week the KRA expressed disappointment with the recent developments. "Whereas we are relieved that the municipality no longer has to pay Dr Vatala for sitting at home, we are extremely disappointed that the disciplinary hearing was not concluded before Dr Vatala's resignation," the organisation said in a statement earlier this week. The KRA also implied that the disciplinary procedures were stretched out unnecessarily, aided by Vatala's unavailability in recent months to attend procedures due to stress. The KRA says this happened after its chairperson, Susan Campbell, gave a "detailed and factual" testimony at a disciplinary hearing in March, followed by two days of largely unchallenged cross-questioning that left Vatala "with a strong case to answer". Vatala says he would have wanted to present his case. "It is so unfortunate that I did not get the opportunity to present my side of the story on malicious and manipulated allegations/charges levelled against me by [the] Knysna Ratepayers Association," his resignation letter reads. The KRA claims Vatala's "delaying tactics" contradicted this desire to present his case.
Vatala is leaving with a bang, claiming in his resignation letter that there are "... deep-rooted corruption activities that are embedded in the municipality…" and levelling serious allegations against unnamed politicians and councillors. The KRA requests that the municipality acts on Vatala's allegations - if they are indeed true - and "ensure that these councillors are held accountable and prevented from being re-elected by unsuspecting voters." It also expresses the hope that Vatala would cooperate to ensure that these officials are brought to justice. At the time of writing Knysna Municipality had not responded to the KRA's statement.