THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY
A response to Save The Primates (Sara Tilling, Gary Henderson and Laureen Bertin’s) recent attempts to sever the DPG/Prime Crew relationship and the DPG/Rainbow Warriors relationship after interfering in the DPG/Tenikwa relationship. Unfortunately, the DPG has been forced to get these facts into the public domain to stop the above parties from continuing to harm our work and the animals in our care. A police case has been opened to charge those responsible for fraud, theft, perjury and harassment.
For a year and a half, Karin Saks has been stalked and harassed by Laureen Bertin online. Bertin was asked to resign in March 2013 and then proceeded to contact every DPG supporter and colleague with false information to cause damage to the DPG/STP relationship (this bizarre behaviour continues to this day).
What this means: every work relationship that Karin and the DPG formed was interfered with by Laureen Bertin (who has repeatedly and fraudulently posed as a DPG trustee).
This pattern of malicious behaviour has continued for over a year causing absolute mayhem to the animals in our care. What has emerged over time is that Bertin’s motives were to get revenge after she was asked to leave the DPG board and to then manipulate the DPG so that funding would be transferred to another primate rescue facility. This came to light when witnesses came forward with proof – DPG volunteers were redirected to the other primate facility (this was kept hidden from the DPG board) and the primate facility in question was offered the DPG vehicle. The primate facility then conducted a smear campaign online spreading false information in order to gain DPG funding and assets as had been promised by Bertin.
However much we would prefer to not expose the facts, and get drawn into an ugly interaction caused by an outsider, it has become absolutely necessary to our work in order to continue without further harassment from Laureen Bertin.
The lesson here is that when one works solely for the cause of animals, it is impossible to separate human politics from that cause. Bertin recently contacted two colleagues of Karin Saks’ again via email (July 2014) in a clear attempt to sever her relationship with them. These attempts follow a long line of similar attacks over the last year and a half and all the relevant information has been handed to the police.
As Bertin’s destructive behaviour has shown no sign of ending, the following factual statement has been put together to enlighten those who Bertin contacts. The DPG has tried to keep the consequences of Laureen Bertin’s personal vendetta out of the public eye but due to the untold damage she has caused the animals, the animal rights/welfare community in SA and primate conservation in South Africa, it has become necessary to publish the facts.
Laureen Bertin – brief DPG board member for 3 months was brought on to the board by former member Samantha Martin – a clear case of mismanagement. It needs to be said from the start that neither Karin Saks or any other current board member has ever met Laureen Bertin in person. Neither has Bertin ever visited the DPG site or had any remote contact with the animals in our care.
Ms Martin apparently regretted her decision to bring Bertin onto the board as she wrote the following before Karin asked Bertin to resign in March 2013:
Some of Laureen’s attempts to direct our daily activities were certainly perplexing:
LB; “Please give me a detailed report of how every person at the DPG site spends every hour of their eight-hour day.”
Karin; “We don’t have eight hour days… we’re on call 24/7 and the direction of our days depends on what primate needs help – that is our priority and all else follows.”
Bertin: “I must have a detailed account of your forty hour week!!”
Karin: ” I don’t have weeks or weekends… the primates are never, ever left alone. It is barely possible to leave for a lunch, let alone a weekend.”
Laureen Bertin acted as mediator between the DPG and STP at a time when Karin Saks and co-worker Steve Greensmith had no internet; communication was difficult (October 2012 – Dec 2012). Due to her having no direct understanding of what had transpired between the DPG and STP when the initial MOA was agreed to, she decided to wing it.
As a result of her “knowledge”, a few months later when STP presented the DPG with an unacceptable “lease agreement” that was not in alignment with the initial MOA, or any verbal agreement that had occurred, Laureen simply allowed her subjective, personal problems to direct her.
And STP – Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson – took complete advantage of this fact.
Tilling and Henderson were given the full facts of what had transpired between Peter Wilson – our new neighbor – the farmer who caused the DPG much trouble when we moved to the new property. Tilling and Henderson were also aware that Wilson had agreed to support our new primate rescue project months before the property was bought. Wilson later denied this, yet according to long-term volunteer – Steve Greensmith:
With all the information that was shared with Tilling and Henderson about this farmer and his activities (he is reputed to be a seasoned wildlife killer in the area), their choice to join forces with him after we refused to sign their unacceptable lease, smacks of a serious callousness towards our cause – South Africa’s primates.
Karin Saks first met Henderson and Tilling for about one hour in April 2012. When the DPG moved to the new property. Henderson then arrived for one week in August 2012 to help with the move. This is the only real contact Karin ever had with this couple who have since relied on Bertin’s lies (along with the severely distorted information provided by the alleged baboon killing farmer they aligned with in March 2013 after the DPG refused to sign their “lease”.
Karin was first alerted to Gary Henderson’s controlling behaviour when co-worker – Steve Greensmith – drew her attention to it. The week spent with Henderson brought up some red flags: he took our young baboons on a walk without our permission in spite of having no experience with baboons and in spite of the risks to them. Steve Greensmith and Karin were left with one young juvenile poisoned (an ex-pet who had yet to learn about natural foraging) after this walk but thankfully managed to save him. Henderson also had Yellowwood trees cut down (which is illegal) to make way for a parking lot. We discovered this too late.
Plans to create a perfect baboon-proof environment to act as an example for residents were underway but Henderson insisted we were not allowed to put burglar bars on the windows to keep the baboons out. His reasoning was that visitors would not like it. The silliest demand of his that week was that we never ride bicycles in the forest as the sight of tyre marks would be unacceptable to visitors. Clearly, his vision was not for the animals but for making a big profit. He took our caretaker aside, told him he was his boss and gave him orders to only follow his rules and not take direction from Steve Greensmith and Karin (who lived on the property while Henderson and Tilling lived in Australia).
All preliminary talk about entering a partnership had disappeared within the first week of moving on to the property. When these initial doubts were brought up months later, Henderson accused Karin of “paranoia’. Yet, as time moved on, Sara and Gary gave the DPG more and more reason to regret the agreement they had entered, showing beyond any doubt that this couple never had any remote care for the primates at all and their sole goal had been commercially based.
The only agreement that was valid is outlined here along with a DPG statement:
BREACH OF CONTRACT BETWEEN SAVE THE PRIMATES AND THE DARWIN PRIMATE GROUP – STATEMENT:
- Karin Saks (founder DPG)
- Darwin Primate Group. Referred to as the DPG. Registered non-profit organisation THE DARWIN PRIMATE GROUP HAS BEEN OPERATING AS THE ONLY OFFICIAL PRIMATE RESCUE ORGANISATION IN THE WESTERN CAPE, MAKING OUR WORK CRUCIAL TO THE FUTURE OF SA PRIMATES.
In 2012, Australian philanthropist Phillip Wollen of the Kindness Trust donated the down payment for Darwin Primate Group (Non-Profit Organization) to purchase a small private nature reserve next to Tsitsikamma National Park in the Western Cape province of South Africa in order to continue its work on a secure property. A second donor – Save The Primates, Australia – came forward to sponsor the rest of the purchase for DPG and the dream became reality; or so we thought. A couple of months after the property had been bought, unforeseen differences of expectations between STP and DPG made it clear the two parties cannot work together and this caused a breakdown in the relationship.
The property was put into Sara Tilling (of STP’s) name after STP requested this in order to provide security for their soft loan. Under no circumstances did the DPG agree to allow STP to use this as a lever to control DPG activities.
A MOA was drawn up in August 2012 and agreed to by both parties, describing STP as the “lenders” and DPG the “occupiers”. It was agreed that STP would market a volunteer program and that bringing in two volunteers a month would more than cover their bond costs. When STP failed to bring in volunteers and cover their costs, they began to change the terms of the initial agreement made. SEO analysis of STP’s marketing of the DPG volunteer program showed it to be inefficient.SEO analysis found:
“Results. STP website overall grade 40% or a D.
Interpretation. Their site ranked at 7,286,090 on the internet.” DPG had relied on income generating activities in the form of a volunteer and adoption program until STP took them over under the guise of “assisting” DPG to be more effective. Not only did STP fail at marketing these programs; they refused to provide monthly statements of all monies collected “on behalf” of DPG via direct donations, primate adoptions and the volunteer program.
Before the property was purchased, the two parties had agreed to let out accommodation on the property until the project was up and running. However, when the need for this arose, STP refused the DPG permission to let out the accommodation.
The DPG agreed to pay a monthly equity to STP which was offset against the funds that STP received from the DPG primate adoption program marketed on the STP website. At no stage was there any mention of paying rent simply because the DPG was a shareholder as opposed to a tenant.
STP “LEASE AGREEMENT:
In January 2013, STP presented the DPG with a “lease agreement” to sign despite our status as legal shareholder of the property. We consulted two legal advisors about this agreement – both advised that the DPG should not sign it. The reason DPG did not sign the new lease agreement is that it was very poorly crafted. It appears to have been crafted by a very seasoned law firm, and is entirely disposed towards the interests of STP, and prejudices the interests of DPG. It subordinates DPG to the status of a tenant, and nothing more. Additionally, it contains no provision preventing a prepayment penalty, so if DPG is in a position to pay the bond down early, it may be seriously penalized for doing so. It also contains a binding arbitration clause. Binding arbitration clauses are typically added to contracts in which the crafter is a corporation, or a large legal practice, and which gives that corporation or legal practice an institutional advantage. There are numerous other highly manipulative clauses within this document which render it unwise for DPG to execute it. Anyone who states otherwise is being less than forthright. Additionally, it is unclear why such a document was drafted. DPG already has a binding agreement with STP, written and executed at the time of the purchase of the new site. That document, a Memorandum of Understanding, sets forth reasonably well the rights and obligations of DPG and STP. It appears that STP’s submission of this new lease agreement to DPG, may have been for less than straightforward reasons, based on these fundamental flaws within this document. It is likely that this submission of a new agreement was pursued in anticipation of STP filing a legal action against DPG, or even more troubling, an effort on the part of STP to vitiate any legal entitlements DPG may possess under the original agreement, and consign DPG to that of an indentured employee of STP, whose motives in this regard may have been predominantly commercial in nature.
After requesting that we have the agreement modified so that it worked in the best interests of both parties (DPG and STP), Gary Henderson refused to allow this.
- PERMITS: February 2013, STP contacted the authorities to prevent the DPG from acquiring permits to secure their primate rescue work. From2008 to 2012, the DPG had been operating with permits acquired from the authorities. The permit process for the new property had begun in September 2012 and we had no reason at all to suspect there would be any problem in acquiring permits for the new property, our reasons being:1. We had been rescuing primates for five years with permits issued.2. The new property is very close to the old property where we worked, there is a corridor of forest bridging the two properties and they both form part of the natural territory of resident monkey and baboon troops.3. The new property had been registered as a private nature reserve called Hebron (as can be seen on Google Maps) and has a vulnerable eco-system on it.4. The property consists of 14 hectares of forest and wild primates naturally occur there.The DPG were on the verge of concluding the permit process when STP obstructed it (Feb 2012). As a result, the process was placed on hold until the dispute between STP and DPG had been resolved. On the 17th April, the primates were moved to a nearby wildlife awareness centre where they are currently based due to them having no DPG property to live on because of the lack of permits.Since the DPG refused to sign the “lease agreement”, STP has actively attempted to block the DPG from doing it’s mandated activities and rescuing and caring for injured or orphaned animals in the Western Cape.STP has consistently argued that they need the loan to be paid off, yet they have simultaneously sabotaged the DPG’s ability to raise funds by taking control of the DPG fundraising avenues, withdrawing permission for us to continue our primate rescues, and contacting DPG colleagues to sever our relationships with them.
STP – Gary Henderson and Sarah Tilling – have progressively misrepresented the circumstances of the agreement to others using slander and defamation, blackmailed DPG to cooperate with their manipulation (with threats to withdraw permission for permits, appointing DPG opponents as their “agents”, and sabotaged the DPG’s work) by increasingly acting like controlling owners/partners which they had entirely no right to do.
The DPG primates were moved to Tenikwa in April 2013. Ironically, about five interested parties each put in a proposal to Cape Nature to get the DPG primates. It is generally extremely difficult to find a reputable rescue centre willing to take in one orphan primate in South Africa.
Why would five outside parties want all the DPG primates?
Unless they were offered money….
Tenikwa took over the DPG primates when Cape Nature made them the sole permit holders of the animals. Tenikwa and the DPG had agreed that if the DPG/STP property dispute was sorted out, the DPG primates would be returned to their home.
The DPG had been working in conjunction with Tenikwa and had focused more on the educational aspects needed to create awareness about South Africa’s primates during the second half of 2013. Soon after this occurred, Gary Henderson and Laureen Bertin – posing as a DPG trustee almost one year after she left the DPG – contacted Tenikwa to interfere in the relationship. The collaboration between Tenikwa and the DPG was an ambitious one brought about when Cape Nature asked Tenikwa to take the DPG primates in in April 2013 after STP had removed permission for the primates to be kept on the property that was bought for this purpose. Tenikwa is essentially a wild cat awareness centre and is commercially driven while the DPG is a NPO fighting to save a persecuted primate species. After a few months, we agreed that the collaboration was not working and Tenikwa decided to look for new homes for the DPG primates. Although it had not been made clear that looking after the primates was dependent on Karin working for Tenikwa, this appears to have been the case.
THE MOA AGREED TO BETWEEN SARA TILLING, GARY HENDERSON AND KARIN SAKS. THIS MOA WAS SHARED WITH NIKKI BOTHA AND SAM MARTIN FOR THEIR APPROVAL:
Memorandum of Understanding
This memorandum of understanding is between Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson of 20 Shoreline Drive Port Macquarie, NSW Australia (The Lenders) and Karin Saks, Darwin Primate Group of The Crags, Western Cape South Africa (The Occupiers)
The purpose of this agreement is too document both parties understanding of a proposed plan for the lenders to provide funds for the purchase of a property know as WhichWay Forest, Plettenberg Bay, and for the property to be used, and ultimately owned by the Darwin Primate Group as a primate rescue and rehabilitation centre.
The Occupiers acknowledge that the Lenders are using their home as collateral to secure the funding for the property from a commercial bank in Australia, and are therefore ultimately liable for any and all interest and capital repayments on the said loan. Because of this, the Occupier agrees that it is fair and reasonable for the lender to maintain a security charge over the property until it is agreed that ownership in full has passed to the Darwin Primate Group. The Lenders acknowledge that any funds provided by Darwin Primate Group used toward the initial purchase of the property will be treated and recorded as equity in the property immediately. Should Darwin Primate Group receive a large donation, the loan balance may be paid off at any time. Loan statements provided quarterly and on request.
Both parties agree that there are good prospects for the new property to generate sufficient income to meet the interest and principal repayments on the loan, and that over time the Darwin Primate Group will secure outright ownership of the property. It is envisaged the income will be derived from volunteers, educational stays, primate adoption, sponsorships, donations and other activities as agreed to by both parties.
It is agreed that initially, all money received from volunteers at the sanctuary will go toward the payment of interest and principal of the loan. To assist in the repayment of the loan it is also agreed that Save the Primates will be permitted to assist in marketing the volunteer programme through their website. To assist Darwin Primate Group, Save the Primates is able to handle all aspect of correspondence with the volunteers including initial vetting, providing information, deposits, bookings and confirmations. It is intended to have a maximum three volunteers any one time, although two would be the likely norm. Larger numbers catered for on request.
To further assist with the loan reduction, and to cover annual property fees, it is agreed that Save the Primates can run a primate adoption programme on their website. Darwin Primate Group will provide photos of each adoptee and a brief history if known. This programme will aim to find one adopter per primate at a rate of US$15.00 per primate per month. Half of the funds raised through this programme will be retained for annual property costs including rates, insurance, fire levy etc. Any funds remaining from this half will be then applied to the loan reduction. The remaining half of the funds raised will be given to Darwin Primate Group to be used for normal sanctuary running costs. Save the Primates will run an adoption page on their website listing all the primates and their sponsors, and provide an adoption certificate to each sponsor.
With the volunteer and adoption programme in place, Darwin Primate Group will then have use of the property to operate the sanctuary at no charge.
With the requirement to raise extra funds through volunteers and other visitor based programmes, it follows that the property should be maintained to a reasonable standard. Therefore the Lenders require that where possible the buildings, structures and grounds are kept in a clean and tidy state. Further to this, the Lenders would like to be consulted on the intended addition of any non-primate species to the property.
While not envisaged to be done in any way, due to the source of funding the Lenders must retain the absolute right and discretion to call in the loan balance with a minimum 6 months notice to Darwin Primate Group. This would only be done in an emergency if there was absolutely no alternative. Should this very unlikely event occur, it would be expected that by this time a sustainable income level would have been achieved, and any funds required could be borrowed by Darwin Primate Group, using the property as security.
The initial MOA was conducted between Karin Saks and Gary Henderson/Sara Tilling. It was written up solely by Tilling and Henderson and agreed to by Karin who made no changes at all. The other DPG board members were not present. Two of them (Botha and Bertin) live far away and have never visited the DPG site hence the lack of knowledge about life on site.
A definite – yet unbelievable – pattern emerged as time passed: Save The Primates consistently sabotaged the DPG’s ability to bring in funds to pay off their loan. Some examples were: they prevented the DPG from letting out accommodation during the holiday season.They failed to bring in the two volunteers a month that was needed for the DPG to pay off their loan. They also redirected volunteers – who had booked to visit the DPG – to another primate rescue organisation, ensuring the funds went elsewhere.
We can only surmise why STP claimed to want the DPG to pay off their loan yet sabotaged our ability to do so. …
The DPG board members had a fall out over this lease agreement with Nikki Botha and Laureen Bertin wanting the DPG to sign (self-interest being the motive) while the other two board members were against signing it for the reasons outlined in the blog below.What needs to be focused on here is that Botha and Bertin were quite willing to sign away the lives of the primates and Karin Saks to a life of hell controlled by Tilling and Henderson while acting part time as board members from a safe distance.
The discord that followed was fuelled further byLaureen’s dislike of volunteer Brad Anthony who was helping theDPG on site at the time. At the time, theDPG had onlyR8000 in the bank. STP had clearly illustrated that they intended on sabotaging theDPG’s ability to bring in funds hence the situation facing our primates was bleak. Brad Anthony had set up a website and created a fundraising campaign to help the situation while theDPG board members had not found a solution to the urgent problem of lack of funding. During the next few months, Mr Anthony raised 20 000 rands for the primates at theDPG.Karin was then asked by certainDPG board members to evict Anthony off the site but as he was the only person helping the DPG , their request was not only unfair but impossible. Laureen Bertin – feeling ousted and accusing Karin of choosing Anthony over her, and shamed at being asked to resign, proceeded to conduct a smear campaign against Karin and the DPG that included attempting to kick Karin out of the very organisation she had founded. This defamatory information was spread far and wide with Bertin contacting every DPG donor and supporter to get them to stop supporting the DPG.
In March 2013, Karin was admitted to a hospital 200 kms away from the DPG. During her absence, an argument broke out between volunteers, Anthony and Greensmith with Greensmith accusing Anthony of assault. Anthony denied these accusations. Laureen Bertin used this opportunity to publicise that the “elderly’ Greensmith had been assaulted by Anthony (who is much slighter and less physical that Mr Greensmith) and blamed Karin for allowing this to occur in spite of the fact she was in hospital.
The only people who know the truth about this incident are those who witnessed it on the day it happened. Volunteers are rescue centres around the country do not always act appropriately and there are many circulating stories of volunteers – at various operations – fighting, drinking, having sex etc.
Karin declined to make any public statement in her defence about Bertin’s accusations simply because the allegations involving her were ridiculous and she had not been there to witness the true events.
Once the primates were moved, Bertin and Henderson contacted Tenikwa to continue with their campaign; emails between the parties reveal that Tenikwa were threatened with their association with the DPG. Again, Bertin and Henderson showed no sensitivity to the outcome of their actions which undoubtedly led to the primates being affected and placed at risk.
Bertin’s strategy is to work her way into an organisation – or to gain an individual’s trust via inbox -, then pretend to know facts about internal DPG matters – that she has no access to whatsoever – in order to manipulate a situation. The lives of the animals in our care were clearly of no importance to her, exposing her for the fraudulent character that many have come to believe she is.
After the DPG board fell apart, a new one was formed with the members’ identities being hidden from Bertin/STP/Nikki Botha to protect them from the ongoing harassment. Not having information about the new board once again spurred Bertin to spread the false rumour that there was no DPG board and Karin Saks operated without one.
Some of the allegations publicised by Bertin (April 2013) were:
Karin had not shown the DPG board members the financial statements for three years:
1. As a registered NPO, had this allegation been true, the DPG would have been closed down long ago. The fact is that our annual reports are up to date and are signed by our accounting officer as well as two DPG board members every year. The docs below illustrate the fact that Nikki Botha and Sam Martin along with Karin Saks had viewed and signed the financial reports annually at the time Bertin accused Karin of acting unilaterally. For years Karin worked without any discord at all with Sam Martin and Nikki Botha and all DPG matters were shared with these two board members for discussion.
ABOVE: DPG ANNUAL REPORTS SIGNED BY SAM MARTIN AND NIKKI BOTHA:
Bertin claimed that Karin refused to sign any formal agreement with STP. This is entirely untrue. Karin was always open to signing an agreement with STP based on the initial MOA that had been agreed to.Strangely, although bothBertin and Nikki Botha were fully aware that legal expert Melissa Palmer had been working on modifying STP’s “lease agreement” so that it worked in the interests of theDPG and not only in STP’s interests, they did not acknowledge this publicly.The following email correspondence between Karin Saks and Gary Henderson (March 2013) illustrates that although the DPG was attempting to modify the ‘lease agreement”, STP were not willing to change it.
I see I didn’t answer your last question. As I mentioned, the agreement is with a lawyer who is drafting it so it works for all parties. We could not sign your lease agreement as it stands simply because we didn’t agree to it all. In the meantime, I assure you we will operate with sensitivity towards the issues you have raised. Best, K
I am not sure how your lawyer is able to draft something on our behalf, and then have an expectation that we will find it acceptable. The terms of the lease are fairly standard and detail the arrangements we require to protect our position. Substantial changes to the lease that we have provided will not be acceptable, so there does not seem to be any point in dragging this process on any longer. You are of course quite within your rights not to accept the lease, but that obviously ends the current situation with regard to the property, and there is then no option but to wind up the arrangement.”
Soon after theDPG refused to sign the “lease agreement”, STP sent the following letter to the authorities:
At the same time, STP made contact with Peter Wilson the farmer who the DPG has had a long dispute with over his alleged shooting of baboons. The relationship between Wilson and STP resulted in them appointing him to be their “agent” to interfere in DPG matters and continues to this day.
STP’s unethical practices:
The DPG was unhappy with the fact that some of our donors were complaining about the false advertising on STP’s website: those who adopted DPG primates were led to believe their donation was going directly to the primates care when in fact it was going to pay off STP’s loan. The DPG was implicated in the false advertising on STP’s site against our will. On March 14th, one of these donors who had adopted a monkey named Laura, inboxed volunteer Brad Anthony to express her utter dismay at having been fooled into believing her funds were going towards the monkeys. This was just one of many disagreements that had occurred between the DPG and STP with the DPG getting increasingly upset about the controlling manner in which STP was operating. Brad Anthony responded to the donor’s mail by writing an email to Gary Henderson of STP. Although Mr Anthony made it very clear this email was written in his own capacity
, STP threatened theDPG, holding theDPG responsible.Mr Anthony felt that Gary Henderson was a “controlling bully”, hence verbally challenged Henderson without restraint, using bad language.Bertin later used this email to manipulate others into believing the contents of the email were the responsibility of theDPG and illustrated the manner in which “theDPG treated donors”. The context in which this email was written – and the fact it was written by a volunteer who had clearly stated he wrote it in his own capacity and not on behalf of theDPG, she intentionally hid.This incident was also used by Bertin and Botha as the sole reason that STP refused to continue the relationship with the DPG. Once again, this is not factual
.It is more truthful to claim that this event was the excuse that Henderson had been wanting for some time to back out of an agreement he had entered. Mr Anthony with his unusual social skills was the perfect scape goat to use to destroy the DPG.
THE DONOR ABOVE EXPRESSING HER DISMAY AT HAVING BEEN FOOLED BY STP’S SITE ABOVE AND BELOW THE CERTIFICATE SHE WAS GIVEN AFTER ADOPTING MONKEY LAURA:
SECRET GROUP SET UP ON FACEBOOK ABOUT THE DPG EXCLUDES ANY DPG REPRESENTATIVES:
In April 2013, a secret group was created on Facebook to manipulate the situation between the DPG and STP. NO DPG board members were in this group, making it highly unethical and fraudulent. Around mid-March 2013, both Nikki Botha and Laureen Bertin left the DPG board after Bertin was asked to resign. Botha had taken over liaising between the DPG and STP in February 2013. Much to our surprise, Botha conducted this relationship without including the people on site as she had promised she would do from the start. As a result, her attempts to bridge the STP/DPG gap did not work and mistrust began to set in. It is believed that Bertin had convinced Botha to act without transparency probably by using a fabricated story she had used on many others,(that being that Karin was under the control of a psychopath in the form of a volunteer on site hence info needed to be kept from Karin). Nikki Botha and Laureen Bertin – who were no longer remotely involved with the DPG and had NO access to internal information any longer – engaged in the secret group set up to control DPG affairs, along with Sara Tilling of STP: Screenshots of the debate that took place show the extent to which Botha and Bertin manipulated the facts to achieve their goal. Neither had any access at all to internal DPG matters at the time.
ABOVE: THE DPG HAS SCREEN SHOTS OF MOST OF THE CONVERSATIONS THAT OCCURRED IN THIS SECRET GROUP WHICH TILLING, BOTHA AND BERTIN WERE PART OF:
(Certain profiles have been blocked out in the screen shot above to protect the innocent:)
Although Bertin and Botha were no longer on the DPG board and DPG matters had nothing to do with either of them, they continued to operate in secret to direct DPG affairs. The motive appears to have been that they wanted control of the DPG/STP relationship and to do this they needed to kick Karin out of the organisation she had founded. Emails forwarded to the DPG by concerned colleagues show this to be the case.. Their plan was built on destroying her reputation with a defamatory smear campaign on Facebook and included recruiting a number of parties to help. This was done via inbox using false information that Bertin posted. They also posted blatant lies on public forums. While Karin Saks was living her life and therefore living the facts, without these two ex-board members being witness to it, they disseminated information that was invented out of Bertin’s deluded mind.Adding fuel to the fire, Botha recruited an ally in Australia who inboxed Karin for over a year to manipulate the DPG’s actions under the pretext he was acting in the DPG’s best interests
Another of Bertin’s false claims was that she had contacted Cape Nature and had been assured that the DPG would never get permits. The DPG had been operating with the full permission of Cape Nature and with permits up until 2012 when we were forced to move.
ABOVE: ONE OF OUR PERMITS FROM CAPE NATURE – THE DPG OPERATED WITH PERMITS FROM CAPE NATURE BETWEEN 2008 UNTIL 2012 (ONE OF THE LIES PERPETUATED BY TILLING/BERTIN IS THAT THE DPG OPERATED WITHOUT PERMITS):
Vernon Gibbs Hall and Karin Saks had been working on acquiring the permit and were about to resolve this process when Sara Tilling withdrew permission for the DPG to function in January 2013 after the DPG refused to sign the “lease”.
ABOVE: THE PERMIT PROCESS RE THE NEW PRIMATE SANCTUARY WHICH WAS ENTERED INTO BY THE DPG AND BITOU MUNICIPALITY.
When Karin contacted Cape Nature to find out if Bertin’s allegations were true, the outcome was that they were untrue.
Quote Barend le Roux of Cape Nature:
“I hereby confirm that I have not had a discussion with Ms Bertin whereby I confirmed the information that is alleged in your e-mail. To my best knowledge, the last discussion that I had with Ms Bertin was in July 2013.
As confirmed to you in previous correspondence you are allowed to apply for permits as regulated by the Nature Conservation Ordinance, Ordinance 19 of 1974.”
On the 14th February, Save The Primates (Sara Tilling, Gary Henderson and Laureen Bertin) arranged a home invasion whereby five thugs invaded Karin Saks’ home. Colleague Gill Simpson and Karin Saks both endured unjust, criminal harassment. A police docket has been opened regarding charges of intimidation, theft, fraud and perjury. This was posted on Facebook at the time at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152295651621412&set=vb.655891411&type=3&theater
Thankfully colleague Gill Simpson was visiting at the time and has proved to be a valuable witness in the police case.A few weeks prior to this, Gary Henderson and Sara Tilling paid our caretaker to relocate, ensuring that Karin would be isolated as they amplified their intimidation tactics. During this difficult period, Nikki Botha’s colleague contacted Karin regularly claiming to be concerned and warning her that STP would be amplifying their intimation tactics.
In March 2014, Terence Olivier of Rainbow Warriors posted the following in response to Laureen Bertin’s ongoing harassment of Karin Saks:
‘Hi Peeps … I bet some of you thought I fell off the face of the earth. Those of you who messaged and texted me asking if everything was ok … Sorry if I lied and said YES.
Everything is NOT OKAY.
A year ago I had the opportunity to meet a group of absolutely awesome people who dedicated their lives to ensuring the Primates in the Western Cape are protected and can run free in the wild. I watched this team of volunteers namely Anna Wood, Steve and Debbie Greensmith led by who I can only call a Legend in the Primate World, namely Karin Saks from Darwin Primate Group perform miracles with injured and orphaned primates. I had walked for 1017km’s and was about to give up and go home. How inconsiderate and selfish of me … I was standing among people who lived, breathed and went without for the primates in their care. We need to remember baboons and monkeys are HATED in this territory and many have been wiped out. It takes a strong person to fight for what you believe in .. Even if it means standing alone! And that my friends is exactly what happened …
I remember leaving DPG with a heavy heart, wishing I could help them. There are many people reading this post who complain about blackouts, unclean water, etc. Welcome to Kaz’s world.
Karin Saks must be by far one of the most knowledgeable people I know in her field. This 5’2 woman will not get dragged into bitchiness and AR infighting … Her priority is the apes and after spending time with her I think humans are about 8 on scale of 1-10.
SO WHY then would someone wage a full scale, vicious, dangerous smear campaign relentlessly for 12 months against Kaz? Why would someone attempt to destroy a persons lifetime commitment to primates? Why would someone want to kill primates through her vicious campaign?
I ask these questions because I need answers. I need to know why a person will post derogatory comments about Kaz on every page she can without thinking about the consequences.
A year later I came back to Darwin Primate Group to find those answers. I found a woman who was ready to fight back … And she was all alone in the middle of the Tsitsikama forest. Now I want people, animal lover or not, to tell me what kind of person …
1. Poses as a trustee of the DPG board and contacts every authority in order to dissolve the DPG operation?
2. Contacted every donor and supporter (including myself) to discredit Karin Saks
When this failed to break Karin the intimidation tactics were brought in. Many of the people on my pages know me from Gauteng (46 years born and bred) so I do know bully boys from the area. I also know when bully boys recruit the Jerry Springer clan to do their dirty work … Sadly the 5 of them never had a brain between them. So after throwing Kaz off the property with just the clothes on her back they moved in and dumped the rest of her belongings in storage. I said dumped … More like “we will destroy your stuff”. All her work, research material, notes and personal memento’s thrown into boxes with open bottles of food and detergents. Nice people. Then the police, the local sheriff, the baboon killer farmer all in cahoots with Kaz’s original property funders. Then there’s the missing items which paid for Jerry Springers clans booze and braai’s … I forgot to mention the agreement was that they intimidate not get food and drink.
I arrived on this property with the sheriff and the farmers foreman (who incidentally had a lease for the property) standing at the gate. The courts had reinstated Kaz back onto the farm. The sheriff now had a change of heart … It was against the foremans constitutional right to ask him to leave that day. What the HELL happened to Kaz’s constitutional right? Oh I forget, bribes in SA work quite well..
The next day (friday) the foreman moved off and the sheriff and his posse worked long into the night returning Kaz’s now damaged goods.
It has taken her 7 days to try and sort this out. Now here’s the thing … The lawyers for both party’s are work out an agreement which is beneficial to all concerned and Kaz is back on the property by order of the court. WHY post today on peoples pages that Kaz is currently being EVICTED? FFS woman where are you getting your info from. I know mine is fact … I’m sitting here posting this in the middle of the forest.
Another thing … Kaz may not answer your vicious emails and threats you have made to her, but she has kept every lie you have posted on fb and email you have sent as well as the mails and threads from people you thought were your friends. I’d be worried.
The vicious personal attack you have made on a woman you couldn’t compete with in all spheres must come to an end. You may have caused untold damage to DPG and the Primates for now but I can guarantee you that you will never destroy the love or take away the knowledge Karin Saks has for the primates. We could all learn a whole lot from a 5’2 woman who will not bow down to you or any other bully she encounters.
I have not mentioned your name on this thread … However many people on this page know you and I promise you I will not entertain your lies and smear campaign here. Your campaign stops here!’
ANYONE REQUIRING EVIDENCE TO BACK UP THE FACTS WRITTEN IN THIS BLOG ARE WELCOME TO CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION.
CONCLUSION: TheDPG finally agreed to a settlement with STP which amounted to an about one-quarter of the damages due to theDPG. Legal fees cost theDPG around 100 000 rands.After receiving the settlement, Bertin predictably posted more false information (publicly) about the amount received and the context in which it was received, in order to further cause discord between the DPG and past donors. The settlement – which barely came to ¼ of the damages owed – was made between the DPG and STP. No other party was involved.
LIFE AT THE OLD DPG – BEFORE THE MOVE:
Karin Saks, John Page, Steve Greensmith, various co-workers/partners and the primates resided on a property in The Crags since 2006. The landowners of this rented property did not once maintain the house as is required according to SA legal requirements. As a result, Karin lived with rotting floor boards, growing mold on the walls, a severely leaking roof and erratic cold water supply. She voluntarily cut off the electricity pylon which was killing wildlife adding to the discomfort. The farmer neighbor – Peter Wilson – who was in charge of the water often cut the water supply off, sometimes for days on end.
Her sole reason for living on this 17-hectare property was for the rescued and rehabilitated primates who inhabited the indigenous forest.
During 2012 when the DPG found itself at loggerheads with the wildlife killing neighbors, we were forced to get more serious about finding a new home for the DPG’s primates.
This proved to be immensely difficult as landowners are not open to having persecuted species on their land, hence the search was a long one. In spite of the lack of water, electricity, unhealthy mold on the walls, rotting floor boards and leaking roof, Karin stayed for the sake of the primates in her care.
The house at the old DPG – above:
A squatter living on the property poached on a regular basis in spite of all attempts to prevent him.
The squatter’s wooden shack in the forest at the old DPG:
One of the enclosures that held unreleasable ex-pet monkeys at the old DPG – one year after the monkeys were moved to Tenikwa – still stood empty.