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More legal drama for Knysna after axed municipal manager heads to court to appeal against firing

More legal drama for Knysna after axed municipal manager heads to court to appeal against firing
The appointment of Ombali Sebola as manager of Knysna municipality has been overturned. (Photo: Knysna Municipality)

Officials from Knysna municipality are once again headed to court after the town’s axed municipal manager said he would appeal against a court ruling which set aside his appointment.

Ombali Sebola, the axed Knysna municipal manager, will stay in his position pending an appeal against his appointment being declared null and void by the Western Cape High Court. 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it would approach the courts to “urgently declare that Mr Sebola may not return to work while he pursues his appeal if it is granted”. 

Last Friday, the Western Cape High Court set aside a council decision to hire Sebola in January 2023, thus declaring his appointment null and void. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Troubled Knysna municipality to restart hunt for municipal manager after court ruling

On Wednesday, the court ruling was tabled during a special council meeting. After the meeting, Daily Maverick was informed by the Knysna municipality communications department that the judgment was discussed and Sebola had filed an application for leave to appeal against the judgment. 

“As a result, he will continue his duties until the decision on the application for leave to appeal is made.” 

DA to launch urgent court action

On Wednesday afternoon, DA constituency head Dr Dion George said the party would not rest until “Knysna is rescued” and would approach the courts to declare Sebola may not return to work while he pursued his appeal. 

In Knysna, the DA is in opposition to the governing coalition of the African National Congress (ANC), Patriotic Alliance (PA) and a local party, the Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners (PBI). 

The 21-seat council has been governed by two different coalitions since 2021, first by the DA and a smaller party called the Knysna Independent Movement (KIM) after the municipal elections. The current coalition took over in 2022. In both governance votes, the deciding vote came from Neil Louw, a councillor from the Economic Freedom Fighters. 

The DA has dubbed the governing PA/ANC/PBI coalition a “coalition of corruption”. 

On Wednesday, George said, “Despite this clear judgment, Mr Sebola has stated that he is appealing the judgment and is still in his office. The question that must be asked is why Mr Sebola is so determined to cling to his office. What unfinished business remains to be done?” 

George said Sebola and the coalition that appointed him “have collapsed service delivery” in Knysna and the Garden Route municipality was in the grips of water, sewage, waste and financial crises. 

Read more in Daily Maverick:

“The Western Cape provincial government recently intervened to issue directives to the municipal manager to comply with environmental and waste management legislation, failing which, steps will be taken to place the town under administration,” said George about the municipality’s next steps. 

“The people of Knysna deserve much better than this utterly incompetent and dysfunctional municipal manager and coalition of corruption,” he said. 

Meanwhile, after the last Western Cape provincial Cabinet meeting, the Cabinet said it welcomed the ruling over Sebola’s axing. 

“However, Cabinet members remain concerned at the slow pace of the Knysna council in implementing directives provided by the provincial government to stabilise service delivery in the town.” DM

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  • Beyond Fedup says:

    And people want to vote for the Patriotic Alliance!!! Gayton Mckenzie is no different to the rotten, criminal and parasitic anc. He will flip flop and join whomever gets him the best deal and the chance to be part of the patronage network.

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