Facts to Fiction

Q: Whose a Cyberstalker?

A: Me?

If it is true. I am guilty. I admit, I simply couldn’t let go. That at least is true. The one thing that actually touches on what is important.

To me at least.

It all started when I advertised in Knysna, for writers who wanted to join a web skills workshop. A community based project that I am still working on.

An advert which led to a coffee, many coffees in fact, with my purported victim.

He is a writer with unquestionable skills.

But also a man who is carrying burdens that have been alloted to him.  Mike Hampton had just arrived in town after a bruising fall-out with his partner on a music blog. He was looking for work. And he knows how to write. There is no question about that.

I commissioned him to produce a series of three features for two thousand rand if I remember correctly. The first one he delivered was brilliant. It was about the forest being the heart of Knysna. But that was also when the first cracks started to appear.

He wanted me to virtually write the next one and during our discussions it became apparaent that there were questions about proprietary rights, doubts and issues around control.

The point at which I backed off.

He subsequently got involved with producing local music events and was thrown a lifeline by Knysna Tourism after a concert he organised flopped spectactularly. But his sucess was shortlived. After organising his first workshop, clearing his debts, Tourism cancelled the project.

And all hell broke loose.

He started to blog, make threats and to use what little he understands of the net. He came into conflict with everyone, to the point where the only action they could take was to ignore him. Something which made matters worse, which has spurred him on to wage a crusade for the last ten or more years.

Initially I was one of the few to support his right to question but when he hooked up with an organisation that had been set up with the sole purpose of legally challenge legitimate local government stuctures in the Western Cape, I realised his campaign was no longer about what is right and what is wrong.

I realised that someone had to challenge him. No one else would. He had no money. He had no assets. “So there was no point in taking him to court”.

A year or two later it all took a nasty turn. He posted and promptly removed a series of three articles connected to the disappearance of a local nine year old child. Raising questions I have been asking ever since. He has never once answered any of those questions. Instead he has tried to dodge what should have been a very simple answer. Instead he has painted a picture of a smear campaign, a conspiracy and political skulduggery sanctioned by Provincial Government who are supposedly trying to silence him.

Bizarre at best.

But ominous in the implications. After all is said and done, it is not really Hampton who is at fault, he is just as much the victim he wants to be seen to be. It is the community which has allowed this to go on for so long that are to blame. The community that has turned a blind eye to the fact that he still has questions to answer.

And if that means I am a Cyberstalker, so be it. I will not forget what should never be ignored.

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