Convicted child rapist mayor Jeffrey Donson is going nowhere, says his party Icosa

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ICOSA councillor Hyrin Ruiters congratulates Jeffrey Donson with his election as Kannaland mayor, with his deputy, Werner Meshoa also in attendance.
ICOSA councillor Hyrin Ruiters congratulates Jeffrey Donson with his election as Kannaland mayor, with his deputy, Werner Meshoa also in attendance.
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  • Convicted child rapist Jeffrey Donson will not resign as mayor of Kannaland.
  • Neither will his deputy, Werner Meshoa, who was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice and fired as teacher after being found guilty of sexual misconduct with a pupil.
  • The party says the reportage on Donson and Meshoa is a campaign to discredit its "good work" in Kannaland.

The convicted child rapist mayor of Kannaland, Jeffrey Donson, is going nowhere, and neither is his deputy, Werner Meshoa, a convicted fraudster who also lost his job as teacher after being found guilty of sexual misconduct with a pupil.

The two convicts' party, the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (Icosa), of which Donson is the leader and Meshoa the national chairperson, came out in strong support of its leader, slamming media coverage after they were elected to their council positions last week.

After News24 reported on their election despite their convictions, several organisations against gender-based violence expressed their concern and called for Donson's removal, and the ANC, who entered into a coalition with Icosa in Kannaland, announced it would review this agreement.

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The Commission for Gender Equality also announced it would investigate Donson's re-election.

"The sudden negative media coverage is a well-orchestrated agenda to diminish the good work done by Icosa for the community of Kannaland and to impugn the constitutional rights of the community to elect public officials of their choice," read a statement from its provincial chairperson, Dawid Kamfer.

"Icosa upholds all the rights of South Africans, including political rights, whereby every citizen has the right to vote in elections for any legislative body established in terms of the Constitution, to stand for public office and if elected to hold office."

He said Donson's life had always been in the public and he never hid parts of it from the public.

Kamfer claimed Donson did not know the girl he raped in 2004 was 15 at the time and "assumed that she was of legal age".

READ | Commission for Gender Equality investigates re-election of Kannaland mayor Donson, a convicted rapist

"When on trial, members of the community supported [Alderman Jeffrey Donson] and attended his trial, and it is the same community that voted for this councillor in the past and current elections. He has paid his dues as deemed fit by our courts," he said.

"As Icosa, we are strong proponents of restorative justice and believe that convicted people, if rehabilitated, deserves a second chance to integrate and make positive contributions in the community and so does the law.

"Alderman Jeffrey Donson is no exception. To want to punish him again [whilst he was already punished], by forcing his removal as executive mayor would be tantamount to double jeopardy, a principle prohibited in terms of our law and democracy."

Kamfer claimed Kannaland had previously been governed by DA councillors who also had convictions, but this was not reported on, illustrating the bias by certain media outlets.

He pointed out Icosa had worked with the ANC and DA since 2006, working with the DA as recently as 2020 and 2021 in Oudtshoorn.

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"As mentioned above, the life of our councillor has always been public and during all material times during any working relationship between ourselves and the DA was the conviction known."

In 2008, Donson was found guilty of statutory rape by the regional court in Oudtshoorn. The rape of the 15-year-old girl occurred in 2004 when he was mayor of Kannaland.

Donson was initially sentenced to five years in prison. He appealed to the Western Cape High Court.

While his conviction was not overturned, his sentence was reduced by Judge Lee Bozalek to a wholly suspended term of imprisonment, correctional supervision, a R20 000 fine, and a rehabilitation programme for sex offenders.

Later in 2008, he was back on the Kannaland municipal council.

Earlier this year, Meshoa, while speaker of the Kannaland council, was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice.

For the fraud conviction, he was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment or a R6 000 fine - and, for the obstruction of justice conviction, suspended for four years, with 36 months house arrest for obstruction of justice.

READ | Kannaland deputy mayor was fired as teacher after being found guilty of sexual misconduct with pupil

In 2012, Meshoa was a teacher and head of department at Excelsior Primary School in Calitzdorp - one of the towns in the Kannaland Municipality.

On 27 November of that year, he was fired after being found guilty of sexual assault and statutory rape of a pupil at the school. He appealed, but the then-Western Cape education MEC informed Meshoa in a letter, dated 8 January 2013, his appeal was unsuccessful.

He then lodged an unfair dismissal dispute with the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC). The ELRC commissioner found he was indeed guilty of the allegations and the dismissal was fair. 

The Western Cape education department confirmed this.

"The media has purposefully failed to publish that Mr Meshoa, also an Icosa councillor, has been acquitted of the rape charge against him as it was another political strategy which the court and the rule of law has seen through," Kamfer said.

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