The municipality says the evidence against Easton was overwhelming following a disciplinary hearing where several witnesses had testified.
“However, Easton unexpectedly tendered his resignation effective April 30. The municipality accepted the resignation, which brought an end to the employment relationship, and the purpose of the disciplinary hearing was mooted,” the municipality said.
The municipality added Easton was legally entitled to receive all benefits accrued to him prior to his resignation, which include accumulated leave days and an old outstanding bonus dating back to the 2014/15 budget year.
“The total cost of proceedings is yet to be finally calculated. The municipality has a constitutional imperative to investigate misconduct and to discipline staff and the cost could not be avoided."
“We can assure the public that no settlement was entered into and Easton was not paid out for the rest of the term of his contract. He will also not receive any bonus for the 2015/16 budget year or the 2016/17 budget year.”
Knysna community activist Mike Hampton said the charge sheet was a product of the R1.2 million external investigation into Easton after local resident Susan Campbell laid a complaint in July 2016.
He said the cost to the public rises to R2m when including his salary while suspended.
“Six days into his disciplinary hearing, Easton quit. His agreement includes him being paid up until end of April gaining him approximately R150 000 more.” Campbell said her complaint related to the (Integrated Strategic Development Framework) ISDF tender and other tenders where the municipality awarded tenders contrary to the relevant tender regulations.
“In some of these instances Knysna businesses, owned by white males and with no BBBEE certificates, were unlawfully favoured above businesses owned by historically-disadvantaged individuals, who had tendered a lower price and had submitted BBBEE certificates."
“One of the charges related to a racially prejudicial statement, relating to one of the historically disadvantaged bidders, made to me during a discussion about tenders.”
Campbell said the previous Knysna Council failed to exercise its oversight role over certain municipal officials and “should therefore take much of the blame for the millions that had been wasted due to irregular expenditure”.