Kouga Municipality is in the process of applying for an eviction order to have Kouga FM removed from the Kouga Cultural Centre in Humansdorp.
“The radio station has tried to paint a skewed picture of the reason for this, even going as far as accusing the municipality of trying to gag them,” says Kouga Mayor Horatio Hendricks.
The facts, however, are quite simple:
Kouga FM’s lease agreement has expired. They are also behind with their municipal account payments. They are, in essence, occupying the building illegally and free-loading.
The municipality first tried to meet with the station manager, but the invitation was ignored.
The municipality then issued the radio station with a month’s notice to vacate the premises towards the end of 2019.
Kouga FM requested an extension. The municipality granted their request and gave them a further three months. The radio station failed to meet this deadline, hence, the current application for an eviction order.
It is unfortunate that the station manager has responded to this legal process with slanderous attacks.
“It is also unfortunate that he keeps on insinuating that there is mismanagement at the municipality. Yet, during my almost three years as Mayor, we have never received a single request for comment from Kouga FM about any alleged wrong-doing,” said Hendricks.
Surely, an ethical and professional radio station would ask for comment and try to determine the facts before airing gossip.
Kouga FM’s failure to do so exposes their attacks for what they are – malicious attempts at getting back at the municipality for refusing to fund the daily operations of the radio station.
Broadcasting and radio stations are, however, not a core function of municipalities and our funding has to be prioritized for basic service delivery.
“I would like to invite the station manager to do as media professionals do. If there is evidence of mismanagement, please share it and give the municipality the opportunity to respond as any ethical and responsible journalist would do,” said Hendricks.
“As matters stand, you are not giving your listeners verified information. You are feeding them self-serving gossip. Media freedom is not an excuse to lead your listeners astray.
The municipality in no way intends on quieting the voice of a radio station but rather to manage its immovable assets in a more efficient and effective manner as a responsible governing party
The station manager is irresponsible, reckless in his comments and biased.
The municipality is in possession of an evidence file regarding allegations of mismanagement and corruption against the station manager. This file was submitted to ICASA in December 2019 and we are awaiting feedback,” added Hendricks.