Traditional and community leaders who have fought against the controversial River Club development have gone after those responsible for a website alleged to be behind a “vicious smear campaign”.
The leaders of the Observatory Civic Association (OCA) and the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Traditional Council (GKKTIC) said the anonymous site was accompanied by thousands of glossy pamphlets distributed at homes in Observatory, aimed at discrediting OCA chairperson, Professor Leslie London and GKKTIC High Commissioner, Tauriq Jenkins.
“It’s an attack on myself, the OCA and Tauriq and it’s timed to stop us from holding the developers to account.
“The enemies of democracy are at work here. They do not want to see the law take its course. Whoever is doing it is not being honest, not being open and we will take legal action,” said London.
A letter from the lawyers was served against two individuals who had written and posted “defamatory” articles, demanding the website be pulled down. Both London and Jenkins were the faces of their organisations in lawsuits against the controversial River Club development at the confluence of the Liesbeek and Black Rivers in Observatory.
This week, thousands of pamphlets were dropped off at houses in Observatory and surrounding neighbourhoods warning residents that should the development be abandoned, the area would be occupied by “squatters”.
The website was littered with articles warning residents that if they “shut the developers down” the land would be a prime target for “the many thousands of homeless” people in the city.
Jenkins said it was clear that the “misinformation” campaign was orchestrated and designed to make people believe the “72 lies” that are listed the website from the various articles written by an “Allan”.
“What is malicious is that the people who are now doing this would go so far as to print A4 pamphlets to spread misinformation,” said Jenkins.
He would not speculate who was behind the campaign but said it was reminiscent of apartheid style “third force” tactics of the infamous Stratcom set to create a “repository of slander” through the website.
“They are creating fear-mongering and also want to dislocate the formations by singling out the key players. Something like this doesn’t fall out of the sky. There’s clearly a lot of money involved in the campaign that seeks to alienate us and create an environment of instability,” said Jenkins.
Some of the articles on the website were written by a “Allan” while others were written by Allan McDonald.
McDonald denied knowledge of who was behind the “blog site” but confirmed his articles were used.
“I am a freelance writer and I wrote some of those pieces some time ago. A lot of the articles are backed up by facts in the High Court. But my lawyers have advised me not to speak until they have gotten to the bottom of these threats,” said McDonald.
He also denied that the articles were commissioned by anyone.
Back in July a notice was issued urging the Khoi clans to “unite in support” of the development and that “legitimately appointed” leaders would gather at the High Court on July 12 in support of the developers as an application for contempt of court against the developers was scheduled to be heard. This notice was issued under the name of Allan McDonald.
“On that day I was assaulted outside the court,” added Jenkins.
The latest attacks come amid lawsuits lodged by the OCA and GKKTIC against the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT).
A few days before the contempt case, a faction of the Khoi people also lodged an urgent court application questioning Jenkins’ credibility to speak on behalf of the GKKTC.
The case was struck off the urgent roll, while the contempt of court case was postponed.