Oudtshoorn and Nelson Mandela Bay are more than 300km apart. The former is a small town surrounded by rocky mountains, while the latter is a mid-size city enveloped by the Indian Ocean. The N9 road that leads to Oudtshoorn is emblematic of the quintessential Klein Karoo scenery: untouched, unspoilt and dry. The heat here can be unforgiving at the height of summer and the winters are biting cold. This is the land of ostriches and associated paraphernalia, mountains and caves, with the most famous being the Cango Caves, a major tourist drawcard.There is an undeniable element of exotica attached to Oudtshoorn, owing to its quirky natural setting. But there is also a forgotten dark side to this place of many wonders: for almost three years, this small Klein Karoo town of no more than 100,000 residents was held to ransom by events at its city hall, which was governed by a shaky and unstable coalition government. That coalition arrangement came about in 2013, when a by-election resulted i...

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