A bad memory in the making

“First Black DA Mayor” darkens DA repute

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Drewan Baird. Oudtshoorn. 15 May 2013. 07h00. Thirty six minutes and twenty four seconds after midnight on April 16, last year, Estelle de Bruyn, then concubine of Bitou Mayor Memory Booysen, and the mother of his child, sms’d the then Bitou councillor Johann Brummer:

“Can u phone the police Memory is beating me cause I asked him where he is coming from this time since this morning”

It was not the first time De Bruyn suffered at the hand of Bitou’s first citizen and the DA’s first black mayor.

Another sms, some weeks earlier, read: “He denied abusing me he just wanted to again, and said I can do what I want he is not afraid of u and anybody else, and I can phone the police, nothing will come of it like all other times.”

As with most domestic violence and spousal abuse cases there are no formal SAPS complaints and records. There is only the evidence of friends and people close to the couple. And that means that someone, somewhere, has to take a stand and report it.

In 2009 the EP Herald reported, under the banner “Cope-aligned councillor accused of shirking, assaulting girlfriend” that then independent councillor Memory Booysen “has been accused of shirking his duties and assaulting a woman”.

In the report, then Bitou Mayor Lulama Mvimbi is quoted asking why there had been no press reports after “the independent councillor (Booysen) assaulted a woman”.

Mvimbi referred queries to his assistant, Mary-Anne Mngomezulu , who said Booysen’s girlfriend, Estelle de Bruyn, had sent her a message on Facebook asking for help after he assaulted her.

I have to explain the reason for publishing this damaging story today. Please bear with me as I explain…

O!O has a five-year history of not reporting on Son type stories. The private lives, even of politicians, are not the purview of this publication. O!O could have told, and still can, hairraising tales shared with it over the years – stories about people that will floor O!O readers.

But my approach as publisher is simple. When a public functionary closes the office door after a day’s honest service delivery O!O can not be bothered whether the next stop is a church or a brothel. Nothing to do with me; nothing to do with you.

People outside of public service delivery obligations are never within the scope of O!O stories. I’m just not interested; and neither should you be! It’s none of our business what others do!

When private matters impact the execution of a functionary’s public duties, O!O maintains that such functionary be assisted to solve the problems because it is a generally accepted management principle that it is cheaper, and mostly better, to change the circumstances of a current employee, rather than replace the person.

There is an exception, in O!O’s opinion.

A convicted child rapist has no place in politics. If a public representative’s destination after work is the bed of a minor, the matter enters into the “Must Know” category; the matter becomes public interest. For this reason O!O is running a continued campaign to have the Kannaland mayor removed from all political office. O!O is not getting any support from political influencers in this matter. But the lack of support does not deter me. Jeffrey Donson, convicted child rapist, should be debarred from holding public office. Period.

As I asked, please bear with me.

Some few weeks ago Memory Booysen led a Plett DA initiative in protest to and prevention of violence against women and children. Yet he beats his concubine.

On February 22 DA premier Helen Zille mouthed off in parliament about abuse in her State of the Province address.

For the DA, therefore, to continue to back a mayor when significant prima facie evidence exist that he beats his life partner is unthinkable. It represents the purest manifestation of a double standard imaginable.

Perhaps the DA is ignoring the evidence against Memory Booysen because he is the first black DA mayor and the DA will stoop to any low to retain that elusive black face on a blue poster and, especially, a black face beaming over a golden mayoral chain.

Of course politicians have enemies bent on discrediting them. And Booysen used to be an ANC councillor, expelled from the party in 2007 for speaking out against corruption and maladministration. He then stood as an independent and won the by-election. The ANC (apparently) does not “like” Memory Booysen. That O!O disputes this notion is well known: O!O regards Booysen as an ANC mayor in a blue T-shirt. The man is as much aligned to the DA brand as Jacob Zuma is to monogamy.

But Estelle de Bruyn was scared enough of her trained boxer life partner and father of her child to sms a councillor in the dark of night for police help.

And Helen Zille knew of the suspicions.

On August 17 last year, Brummer mailed the DA leader:

I did not rush to her aid as I should have done, fearing that it was a trap being laid by Memory and my colleagues here in Plett. I did not call the police as requested fearing damage to the DA.

All I did was report it to our Speaker, Charles Dreyer, again although I knew he would do as little about it as I had.

On another occasion I reported it to our Constituency Leader, Donald Grant. He simply forwarded my report, which I thought he would handle with some confidentiality, to Memory.

In my defence, I warned Donald and Charles at those times that it could become a serious embarrassment to the DA but Donald’s and Charles’s hearts, like mine, were obviously not in confronting this issue.

So, in this Women’s month of August my past inactions come to haunt me at a time that I really do not need this complication.

I do not know what is going on right now in the Bitou Mayoral residence. I don’t even want to guess.

And the DA knew of the suspicions before Booysen was hailed as “First Black DA Mayor” in 2011.

I reported to Zille on Saturday that I was to publish this story. She did look into the matter. She remains one of a very few politicians who still demand some semblance of integrity. Yet, in the end, in correspondence in this matter, Zille was mainly concerned that I would quote her out of context. Her party’s only Black mayor assaults his concubine, and the party leader is preoccupied with being quoted “in context”.

Well, here is the unadulterated context – the complete correspondence between me and Zille on Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor of Bitou…

Baird to Zille

Dear Helen

This is private again, and should at least serve to indicate that I am not bent on embarrassing the DA.

The story of Memory and his Estelle will be told this coming week.

I have never published any of the gory details reported to me about so many people. I can not be bothered if a man goes to a chapel or a brothel once his day’s public work is honestly done. I am also by no stretch of the imagination a religious man, but I have a great affinity for folklore and I daresay the Middle Eastern Jesus called people to testify for him and not judge on his behalf.

But… Like the child rapist Jeffrey Donson, the wife beater Memory Booysen has no place in politics.

I want to afford you a chance to prepare for the damage.


Zille to Baird

Hi Drewan

I have been into this today. Apparently Memory and his wife are in the throes of a divorce. Liz and Wyn Mundell, two people I have the highest regard for, have been counseling and lending support in a fraught and very complex situation. It is impossible for any outsider to understand the dynamics of a troubled marriage or to apportion blame. There are allegations of spousal abuse, both ways. Until a charge has been laid, and a defendant asked to plead, it is very difficult to form a definitive judgement. I am trying to establish whether a charge has been laid, but to the best of my understanding this has not occurred.

I have taken advice from colleagues and on the basis of this, I am allowing the counseling and support to continue, and I have full confidence that I am being given the right advice in these very tense and complex

Many thanks


Baird to Zille

Hi Helen

I considered your response carefully.

Some facts:

1. There is no divorce as there is no marriage to dissolve.

2. Both Memory and Estelle are seeing other people. Reconciliation is not a foremost option.

3. There is no “dynamics of a troubled marriage.”

We are dealing with abuse of a woman by a very prominent DA member – the DA’s only black mayor. This is a high profile matter. Booysen is the man who stands at the forefront of the DA’s campaign against woman and child abuse in Plett. He recently led a march against woman abuse in his capacity as DA Mayor.

Ye gods and faeries, it is like having Jeffrey Donson march against child abuse!

The DA chose to put him at the forefront of the campaign in Plett, in the full knowledge that he is a proponent of woman abuse. Who is responsible for this “ligte mistykie”?  Liz and Wyn Mundell – the “marriage counselors”!?

You had been informed in August 2012 already of the problem, and the problem has clearly escalated!

Booysen is a skilled boxer. The man knows the art of inflicting maximum damage with a single blow. The man is skilled at avoiding blows from an opponent. And you buy “spousal abuse, ‘both ways’”!?

I have spoken to Estelle’s friends and to a source that has never failed me in four years. Nobody wants to go on record. And there will very probably not be a formal charge.

Such dastardly civil lethargy is opprobrious.

There is no need for a “definitive judgement”. There is very strong prima facie evidence that Memory has assaulted Estelle on numerous occasions. That is enough to act against him in the circumstances. It is simple – either you support his position or you don’t. If you don’t, act accordingly and make it known. If you persist in supporting his position you don’t have to bother to make it known, I will do that for you.

There is only one sentence of any relevance in your reply to me: “There are allegations of spousal abuse, both ways.” The rest is obfuscation.

It is enough for the you to know (and you do). Act accordingly, without fear or favour.

I WILL not accept that you – standing between me and a one party state, as you won me over the other day – will stand idly by while this atrocity is perpetuated.

I CAN not accept that you – who steadfastly refuses to align with Badih Chabaan, who has not been found guilty of any of the crimes of which you and your men accuse him – will stand idly by while this atrocity is perpetuated.

Memory Booysen must go.

I await your response before publishing the story.


Zille to Baird

Hi Drewan

Badih Chaaban was directly involved in seeking to bribe our councillors, and we had evidence of that. He was involved in trying to bring down the coalition government in Cape Town by doing a deal with the ANC for the deputy Mayoralty behind our backs. I had proof of all of these things.

When two people split up — and I understood there was a divorce in progress — it is complex to judge from the outside. If there is any evidence of physical abuse, a charge must be laid. Otherwise it is impossible for me to make a unilateral judgement without evidence. How would this fit the framework of due process? Are there sworn affidavits? And has their veracity been tested?

In the Sexwale divorce, with accusations flying both ways, a judge will weigh the evidence, after cross examination and reach a conclusion as to who is telling the truth and where the “fault” lies, although in these situations it is usually difficult to unravel.

I think this should be the last of our correspondence. All I want to say is that if you quote me, please give the full context.

Helen Zille

The ANC, it is said, has lost both the GPS and the moral compass. And the DA?

O!O had given Booysen some 40 hours to respond to this story before publication. This message was send to 2 of Booysen’s e-mail addresses at 15h51 Monday:

Dear Mayor Booysen

I have received several reports that you have assaulted your partner, Estelle, on numerous occasions in the immediate past.

Please confirm or deny the accusation that you have assaulted Etselle, by 17h00 tomorrow, May 14. Your failure to respond will be taken as an admission to the assaults.

No response had been received.

This is in line with Booysen’s steadfast refusal to respond to enquiries, even subsequent to solemn face to face assurances that he would.

EP Herald; Independent Newspapers.

Concubine. n. A woman who cohabits with an important manm

DREWAN BAIRD COMMUNICATIONSensaytional – 076 349 6316
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13 thoughts on “A bad memory in the making

  1. Hierdie Booysen and Donson affere gaan die DA nog totaal sink, hou die pers en die publiek gerus dop.
    Watter vrou in die land sal die DA ooit kan vertrou as n vrou soos Zille nie eens hul noodkrete en belange kan of wil beskerm nie ! Wie trek Zille se toutjies, al weer daardie ‘mediocre men ?”. Hierdie ding gaan vir Zille nog baie laat sweet en permanente skade berokken, net soos Waterkloof en Guptagate vir Zuma gaan sink. In kringe word daar reeds gepraat om Zuma voor volgende jaar se nasionale verkiesing te ‘recall” Gaan Zille die selfde lot toeval ?

    Wie is nou eintlik in beheer van die land en die DA. Definitief nie Zuma of Zille nie. Saam sal hulle val want hul is nooit geleer ‘Do what is right, let the consequince follow”

    Tyd dat Kinder en Vroue organisasies opruk, veral volgende jaar met verkiesingstyd en met Posters, mediaverklarings , optogte ens baie duidelik protesteer teen Memory en Donson en soorgelyke knawels landswyd en terselfdertyd politieke partye se onwilligheid wat liefs anderkant toe kyk, openbaar by name en dit onophoudend te berde bring by elke liewe publieke politieke vergadering gedurende en in vraetyd !!

    Pragtig gestel Willempie: “Agter elke goeie man staan daar ‘n (goeie) vrou, agter elke slegte man staan daar ‘n (slegte) politieke party – ruggraatloos met geen morele werkende kompas. : “More gravy on the train ”

    Iemand GAAN die leiding neem en dit is nie Zille of Zuma nie, geweeg en gans te lig gevind !!
    Kan dit Mev Dr Rampele wees ?

    Google gerus The Dinokeng Initiative.

    Mev Zille, dit het tyd geword vir jou om te groet of jy gaan binnekort gegroet word, besluit self !!

  2. The Yanks have a saying, “If you’ve done it you ain’t braggin’.”

    Two comments of very many I have received on this Memory Booysen story, I am proud to share with readers:

    Dear Drewan

    The last 2 or 3 postings by you refer.

    I am not sure if I can put this correctly but I have to tell you your writing style is mesmerizing. It’s been a while since I have actually read a full article as time is precious. You remind me of at times of the brilliance of Noseweek’s editor, in his heyday. All the Very Best.

    Weereens, baie goeie berig oor Memory. Welgedaan, uitstekend!
    ~ A local lawyer

  3. Down boy! Sit! Fetch your bone and keep yourself busy. Nou raak jy f…..n belaglik.

  4. Zille gaan niks doen aan die saak nie. Ek verneem haar “Meneer Regruk” Duppie Du Plessis wat Bitou vir ses maande wanbestuur het is geskors as munisipale bestuurder by Overbergdidtriks munisipaliteit.

  5. Well Drewan, I guess the biggest public accolade you can heap on an outspoken journalist, like yourself is. – Youve got BALLS. Well Done.

    Only one question though. Where do disenfranchised DA supporters and elephants go to die? (and don’t say Ladismith, that’s the exclusive domain of former gangsters and other miscreants)

  6. Hypocrisy at its best – Ms. Zille “had evidence” of Chabaan’s wrongdoings, non of it tested (their veracity or otherwise) in a competent Court, yet she was willing to accept that “evidence” as fact and act on it.

    Now, there are allegations of spousal abuse, and she does not even bother to investigate the allegations?!

  7. Uitstekend O!O!

    Hier was vanoggend al ‘n geraas in ‘n DA-kantoor en harde stemme is gehoor.

    Hierdie ene sny diep. Die “manne” laaik nie hierdie ene nie.

  8. Pure EVIL.

    “In order for evil to flourish, all that is required is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”

    Now we know where you stand on this issue.

    Well done DA. Well done Helen and your merry men.

  9. Hierdie ding stem mens tot kommer. Die gouedraad wat deur hierdie ding loop is dat die DA meer omgee oor die party as oor die betrokke mense. Dwarsdeur die afere skerm almal vir die DA en “pass die buck” Die sogenaamde berading kom eers heel aan die einde as ‘n sort nagedagte maar dan steeds duidelik net as “damage control”.

    Dit is heeltemal reg en goed dat onder die omstandighede berading verskaf word. Deur gekwalifiseerde neutrale buitestaanders. Maar wanneer die “beraders” die Mundells is, is dit duidelik dat in die “berading sessies” die DA eerste kom, dan hulle poster boy en dan sleg derde die arme vrou. By gese as daar ooit werklik berading sessies gehou is. Ek betwyfel dit ten sterkste.

    Ons politieke leiers in die Suid Kaap: Donson – kinderverkragter, vd Westhuizen – dief, April – dief, Booysen – vroueslaner. Mooi so!!

    Agter elke goeie man staan daar ‘n vrou, agter elke slegte man staan daar ‘n politieke party.

    Ai, Helen, dat jy soo kan naamweggooi en dan nog ons hoop daarmee saam.

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