29/06/13 – At the 2013 AGM a resolution was passed adopting a new MOI for FreeMe which revoked the members’ rights to vote for The Board of Directors and allowed only for Directors to vote new Directors to the board.
10/03/15 – Email from Stuart Hancock announcing Margo Bansda as the Executive Director.
10/07/15 – Margo Bansda holds a disciplinary hearing for Nicci Wright, the animal manager and Penelope Morkel, the assistant animal manager.
24/07/15 – Penelope Morkel resigns and gives one months notice, promising to upskill the volunteers and to complete the rehabilitation process of the animals in her care in the interim.
27/07/15 – Nicci Wright resigns. Promising to upskill the volunteers and to complete the rehabilitation process of the animals in her care in the interim.
28/07/15 – Margo Bansda gives Nicci Wright and Penelope Morkel half an hour to collect their belongings and remove themselves from the property and threatened legal action if there was any adverse press on the issue. A critical void in animal care is created.
01/08/15 – A meeting is held to quell volunteers’ worries about animal care, Shathi Govender is introduced and promises are made about Big future plans which need to remain secret and “if you stick with me you’ll have a chance to go on releases and work with BIG wild animals”. Suffice to say no one’s fears were quelled.
19/09/15 – Margo Bansda employs Marinda Brits, a veterinary nurse and Dr Rob Campbell, a vet. Neither of them have a history in rehabilitation. The void in animal care becomes more dire as now volunteers are requested to follow protocol which is not in the animals’ best interests.
23/09/15 – 32 senior volunteers request full membership (which is their right according to the MOI) and that Margo Bansda stand down as MD. The Board of Directors ignore their request.
01/10/15 – Registered members ask for access to the list of registered members, the financials and the monthly running costs. They are denied access to all. They are told to give them time to find them.
06/10/15 – Members return for documents and only 2014 financials are made available to them.
11/10/15 – The volunteers begin to compile a comprehensive collection of affidavits of animal neglect and cruelty at the hands of the vet nurse, vet and new ‘rehabber’ Karien Schmidt, all under the control of the Board of Directors.
16/10/15 – 3rd quarter newsletter sent out to interested parties and a different/secret letter sent to volunteers?!!!
Senior volunteer Anne Reid rescues a steenbok lamb and takes it to receive urgent medical care with Dr Claire Speedy at Lamemoor Vet.
Ros Gerber, Longest standing Director of FreeMe lays a claim of theft at the Sandton Police Station against Anne Reid.
23/10/15 – A legal letter of demand is delivered to the Board of Directors.
26/10/15 – NSPCA requests a meeting of the parties. Margo Bansda refuses.
29/10/15 – New security measures introduced to search volunteers vehicles when entering and exiting the property.
02/11/15 – Margo Bansda requests that Claudius Sibanda, the only remaining animal manager from the previous team, ‘rewrite’ his report on the Gull incident. He refuses saying he wasn’t a witness to it.
03/11/15 – Claudius Sibanda hands in his resignation. Margo refuses to accept it.
The volunteers deliver, by hand, their affidavits to Isabel Wentzel, the senior wildlife inspector at the NSPCA.
06/11/15 – The NSPCA and GDARD close FreeMe down with immediate effect. No further admissions are permitted. It has taken Margo Bansda and her Board of Directors, Shathi Govender and Ros Gerber 8 months to close the doors on a 17 year old community institution.
09/11/15 – All staff requested to sign a lengthy NDA. Claudius Sibanda refuses and is asked to leave the meeting.
Volunteers receive an official letter stating that our services are no longer required and two foreign volunteers (no rehabilitation experience) are taken on to assist – Jana & Silke.
10/11/15 – Volunteers are disallowed access to the property and only those preferred volunteers on a prescribed list are permitted access to the property.
02/11/15 – Constant Hoogstad, of Endangered Wildlife Trust, Director of FreeMe resigns.
17/11/15 – Margo Bansda sends out secret letter to Paulshof ratepayers requesting that they apply for membership to FreeMe and that they please keep it under wraps.
18/11/15 – Volunteers apply for membership again!
23/11/15 – Claudius Sibanda is escorted off of the FreeMe property by two security guards
Volunteers receive a blanket response from the Board of Directors of FreeMe denying them membership. Registered members receive, the self same, blanket response denying them membership even though they didn’t request membership!
26/11/15 – Our Pro-Bono attorney the fabulous Alan Warrener suggests that we approach the Media and start encouraging public support.
So this is the story of how we got to where we are now, asking you for your support at the GM to be held on Thursday 28 January, at 5pm, at
FreeMe’s premises, on the Rietfontein Nature Reserve German Country Club on Holkam Road. Please bring everyone you know. It’s our chance to encourage the incumbent Board to put things right, to do the right thing by the animals and to return FreeMe back into the hands of the Community whom built it.