SUSPENSEFUL END TO KNYSNA ELECTIONS

The municipal election in Knysna last week resulted in the Democratic Alliance winning 10 out of 21 seats on the new Council, one short of an outright majority. The ANC won 7 seats, while the Congress of the People, the African Christian Democratic Party, the newly-formed Knysna Unity Congress and an independent, Velile Waxa, each secured a seat. Knysna therefore has a hung Council. This means that, in order to govern effectively, the DA will need to secure the support of one or more the other 11 councillors.

It is understood that the DA has been engaged in coalition negotiations to secure compatible partners for a coalition and is confident that these talks will be successfully concluded by the time the new Council is inaugurated later this month. The Council will then elect its Speaker, its new Mayor (who will be the DA’s Eleanore Bouw-Spies) and the new Deputy Mayor. The new Mayor will announce the other three members of the Mayoral Committee. The Council will also appoint the members of the four portfolio committees of Council, as well as of all the various other committees, including the important Municipal Public Accounts Committee and the Council’s Disciplinary Committee.

Election day was cold, and rainy to start with, and the turnout was just below 64% compared to 66% in 2011. However, this turnout was better than the national average of 58%. The IEC generally acquitted itself well and there were few complaints, mainly in some of the traditional ANC wards where the contest was fierce. The leaders of the DA and the ANC, Ms Bouw-Spies and Victor Molosi, both won big victories in their wards: Bouw-Spies with 74% of the vote in Ward 5 and Molosi with 70% in Ward 8. The COPE leader, Ricky van Aswegen, won his party’s only seat by squeaking through in Ward 6 in Hornlee by 26 votes over the DA candidate, Pastor Jan Davids.

In Ward 4, Waxa achieved a remarkable victory, in what was considered to be a safe ANC seat, by receiving 1274 votes against 1036 votes for the ANC candidate. As a community leader, former ANC councillor and union leader, Waxa is expected to make his presence strongly felt in the new Council. The other surprise-package of the election was the Knysna Unity Congress, whose Monwabisi Salaze secured a proportional representation seat for his party. As a recognized community leader, he should also be able to make valuable contributions to the Council’s operations.

In the Sedgefield area, the DA comfortably retained its two seats with increased majorities. In Ward 1, Dr Levael Davis increased the DA majority from 198 votes to 342 votes, while in Ward 2 Cathy Weideman’s majority over the ANC was 1777 votes compared to the DA’s 1507 votes five years ago.

Knysna is about to join another almost 30 municipalities all over the country that have entered the era of coalition politics and, although the suspense following the election should be resolved soon, it is to be hoped that whichever parties form the governing coalition, Knysna will end up having a stable and competent government for the next five years.

DEVASTATING FIRE IN SMUTSVILLE

Friday 22 July. An horrific fire has gutted numerous homes in the Beverly Hills neighbourhood of Smutsville, Sedgefield.  Though fire crews from Knysna and Eden fire departments joined the Sedgefield firefighters, by about 2.00 pm the blaze was not out, though it looked to be under control. 

The cause is not yet known, but it is believed that the fire began between 11 and 12, and with a strong wind blowing it was minutes before flames were spread to several ‘informal’ homes. Whilst the firefighters and municipal workers desperately tried to douse the blaze and minimise the damage, members of the community did their best to move the contents of the homes to safety. The pavements and roads were piled high with furniture, clothes and other personal belongings.

13 Homes were destroyed, affecting 22 families, and heartbreaking scenes unfolded as some owners and their children arrived home to find all of their worldly goods destroyed.

According to Christopher Bezuidenhoudt of Knysna Municipality Communications, the families will be temporarily housed in the Smutsville Community Hall, and have been supplied blankets & food parcels.  Human Settlements will take over on Monday in terms of the supply of new building material.

Should anyone wish to assist please contact the Sedgefield Fire department at 044349 2900.

ROUGH SEAS ALERT FROM NSRI

NSRI are urging extreme caution around the coastline.

Storm conditions, strong gale force winds, rough seas, heavy sea swells and big surf conditions coupled with the full moon Spring tide will cause dangerous sea, surf and coastal shoreline conditions over the next 5 to 6 days.

The SA Weather Service has posted alerts warning of rough seas, storm conditions, strong gale force winds and storm surges and they are monitoring weather data charts to adapt warnings accordingly.

The full moon Spring tide peaks today, 20th July, and will add to the (forecast) storm weather conditions and cause dangerous sea, surf and shoreline conditions.

Spring tide conditions will last into the early part of next week.

Spring tide happens twice every month of the year, at full moon and at new moon, bringing higher than normal high tides, lower than normal low tides, and stronger than normal rip currents.

NSRI urge boaters, paddlers, bathers, sailors and anglers to be cautious around the coast during these storm conditions.

We urge sea users to watch weather warnings, have the sea rescue emergency phone number 112 programmed into your phone and only go to sea if it is absolutely necessary.

Anglers fishing along the shoreline, hikers hiking along coastal hiking routes, beach strollers, paddlers and boaters should be vigilant of the tides, breaking surf along the shoreline, higher than normal high tides, lower than normal low tides, stronger than normal rip currents and rough sea conditions.

Anyone launching any kind of craft to go to sea should let a responsible person know your launch time, your exact route and your return time. Stick to your intended plan and let the responsible person know of your safe return.

Boaters and paddlers can make use of the NSRI free phone app RSA SafeTrx to further enhance personal safety – see SafeTrx on the NSRI web page www.nsri.org.za.

Boaters and paddlers should carry safety equipment easily accessible while on your voyage – wear a properly fitting life-jacket when underway on water, carry red distress flares, a cellphone with emergency numbers programmed into your phone and the phone in water tight sleeves and fully charged, a hand-held VHF radio, a referee whistle, a signalling mirror or computer CD disc that can be worn around the neck and used with sunlight to signal your position to search parties, bright and reflective clothing, reflective tape on your craft and a water proof torch.

This NSRI alert is intended as a warning to the public to be cautious, responsible and safe around the coastline and to exercise responsible safety at sea during the (forecast) dangerous weather conditions affecting the coastline during this period.

TO REPORT A SEA RESCUE EMERGENCY DIAL 112 FROM A CELLPHONE

FLAMINGOS PERISH ON POWER LINE.

SANParks rangers are currently monitoring Swartvlei Lake on the outskirts of Sedgefield  for evidence of more injured flamingos, subsequent to a horrific accident this morning (18 July) in which a number of them flew into a nearby power line parallel to the N2. Thus far, two dead flamingos have been found by the rangers whilst another badly injured one had to be euthanized on site.

Furthermore, four seriously injured flamingos were collected and rushed to Tenikwa Wildlife’s Rehabilitation Centre for treatment of cuts and bruises sustained.

Jonathan Britton, SANParks Ranger for Marine in Wilderness, says he is planning to approach the relevant authority regarding the power line in question to see if there are any measures that can be taken to minimise the re-occurrence of such an incident. SANParks wishes to thank Tenikwa who came through to assist SANParks, as well the concerned members of the public who alerted us to this unfortunate incident.

Picture provided by Tenikwa

BODY OF MISSING MAN FOUND

SAPS MEDIA CENTRE yesterday afternoon reported the sad news that they have found the body of Gideon Mativo, the local man who has been missing since 25 June. Four arrests have been made in the case, including one man who is suspected of being the murderer. This same man led SAPS to Gideon’s body which had been placed in a ditch and covered up.

Gideon, a well-liked man whom many will remember from Sedgefield’s Mosaic Market and his jewellery stall at Eden Meander, left home late on that Saturday afternoon to go and pay wages, but never returned.

As the evening wore on and she was unable to reach him on his cell phone his wife Caroline became more and more concerned, and eventually called the police. A friend of the family reports that she had then been told by the SAPS member on duty that she would have to wait 24 hours before she could report a missing person.

A case was finally opened at Conville Police Station, and an extensive search was undertaken. Fears grew worse for Caroline and their three children when SAPS discovered Gideon’s vehicle, a Nissan Qashqai, burnt out in a field near Thembalethu. It had been stripped of its wheels and various other parts.

The investigation extended further, including the search of several small dams in the area by police divers. This joint operation was eventually to include SAPS members from Conville, George, and Thembalethu stations, as well as the Hawks Organised Crime Unit, the Outeniqua Canine Unit and several detectives from the Eden Cluster.
Eventually there was a break-through when police found car parts belonging to the Mativo’s vehicle. This led to the arrest of three suspects on Monday 11 July and a further arrest of the murder suspect the following day. This suspect led the SAPS detectives to where Gideon’s body had been hidden in a ditch near Ballots Bay. He had been stabbed several times in the upper body.

Captain Malcolm Poje said that the four suspects will be in court on Thursday 14 July, facing various charges including murder, theft, and malicious damage to property. He said that Cluster Commander Oswald Reddy offered condolences to Caroline and her family, and commended the SAPS members involved in the investigation for their dedication to bringing the suspects to book and giving the family closure at last.

A DREAM COME TRUE FOR LIZE

Lize Maree, a bedridden 38 year old Hospice palliative care patient from Sedgefield, had a dream come true earlier this month when she had a personal visit from her favourite artist…

‘We are all Beautiful. We are all magical, deserve to be adored…’ sings Kahn Morbee of the Parlotones, and he must know what he’s singing about since it made him and the Parlotones internationally famous.

Surely there are none more beautiful than those who are in service to others? The team from our local Hospice and Kahn Morbee himself provided a shining example of the kind of people that we should all strive to be.

Lize’s mother Bets says that despite being bedridden, Lize is in good spirits and pretty much like any other 38 year old woman. She has long been a huge fan of the The Parlotones and one of her biggest regrets is that she never attended a live concert of theirs. Members of the Hospice heard about this and obviously some thought wheels started turning. Days later who should walk through her door? None other than Kahn Morbee himself!

After a recent series of gigs in and around the Garden Route, he had been contacted by Hospice and asked if he would consider popping in to say “Hi!” to Lize, and that’s exactly what he did! The artist spent some wonderful one-on-one time at her home, really getting to know her. In star-struck Lize’s words, “This is the best day of my life!”. At the end of the visit the happy lady added “The best thing about being sick is Hospice.”

Thrilled with how the day turned out, Hospice PR lady Ashleigh Sanders Smith said “Knysna-Sedgefield Hospice recognizes that our patients need and deserve to have holistic care, covering their physical, psychological-social and spiritual needs.”

Well done to the team at Hospice that made it happen and kudos to Mr Morbee on being not only an excellent artist but a true ‘mensch’ as well. We will never really know of all the work that Hospice does in our community and we’ll never be able to thank them enough.

COMPLAINT AGAINST MUNICIPAL MANAGER TO BE INVESTIGATED

Knysna Mayor Georlene Wolmarans yesterday released the following press release.

At a special Council meeting held on Tuesday 5th July 2016, the Knysna Council considered allegations of serious misconduct made by a member of the public against Mr Grant Easton, the municipal manager.

The Council decided after taking into account the relevant legislative provisions to appoint an independent investigator to conduct an investigation into the allegations. In order not to prejudice the outcome of the investigation, the nature of the allegations against the municipal manager cannot be made public at this time.

The Council also decided that in order to protect the interests of all the parties involved, including the municipal manager, to ask the municipal manager to respond in writing within seven days as to why he should not be suspended for precautionary reasons while the investigation is on-going.

The Council wishes to make clear that the decision to investigate in no way pre-judges the issues involved and has been taken so that the allegations can be fairly tested and that the municipal manager be given every opportunity to answer the allegations.

 

IT’S OYSTERFEST TIME

The Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival begins on Friday this week, with a jam-packed programme of events guaranteed to keep locals and visitors of all ages entertained. Whilst the 10 day festival brings a much-needed influx of more than 50 000 excited visitors to the area, Garden Route residents certainly don’t shy away from joining in the fun that is happening right here on the doorstep.
Aside from the popular weekend sporting events, such as the Momentum Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour (2nd and 3rd July) and the Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon (9 July), highlights of this year’s Festival include:

Food and drink:-
• Look out for Oyster Hotspots – restaurants in and around Knysna and Sedgefield where you’ll find oyster specials and other interesting dishes over the 10-day period.
• As part of the Best of Brunch promo, local restaurants will serve up delicious takes on everyone’s favourite meal – brunch!
• The Knysna Wine Festival and Night Market will host some of South Africa’s best wine estates on 4 and 5 July where you can meet local winemakers, taste their latest wines and learn about the latest trends in wine-making.
As an extra treat, Heather Walters will perform live on 4 July and Robin Auld on 5 July.
• Seafood Wednesday takes place on 6 July, giving seafood lovers another chance to indulge in all manner of seafood. The event kicks off with a seafood walk-around at participating restaurants during the day; a seafood braai competition takes place in the afternoon, and the ever-popular oyster shucking and eating competition takes centre stage in the early evening.
• Flavours of Knysna served with Tabasco Sauce, also part of Seafood Wednesday, will see some of the best local eateries going head to head in the oyster stakes. We hear Sedgefield’s PiliPili (last year’s winnners) will be there to defend their title!
• The Oyster, Bubbly and Chocolate Experience will be hosted at the Simola Hotel at 18:00 on 3 July where visitors can enjoy instructional bubbly tastings from five different estates, paired with the decadent combination of oysters and chocolate.

Live entertainment:-
• The Comedy Shuckle is a Festival must-see, with top comedians Schalk Bezuidenhout and Kagiso Mokgadi ready to have you doubled over in laughter.
• The Exclusive Glenmorangie Whiskey & Live Jazz cruise is a festive addition to this year’s line-up on 3 July at 17:30.
• If the classics are more your cup of tea, then don’t miss the all-new Opera Gala Concerts on 7 and 8 July.

For the little ones:-
• The Pick n Pay Young Oyster Festival presented by Humpty Dumpty Windmeul Eggs will host fun cooking lessons and arts and crafts for two to 10 year olds. This will take place 2 – 9 July from 10:30 to 15:30 and on 3 July from 10:30 to 13:30.
The Young Festival, situated at the Main Festival Pavilion, is open from 09:00 – 15:30 daily, will include lots of entertainment and is ideal for creative kiddies.
• The Momentum Health Kiddies Zone is a fully supervised, secure and fun area for children aged two to twelve, with great age-appropriate activities such as jumping castles, sand art, colouring and drawing as well as jumping rope games. It is also at the Festival Pavilion and runs from 09:00 to 16:00 daily with extended hours on 4 & 5 July until 21:00
• The Dare2Dash obstacle course is situated at the Festival Pavilion and is open from 10:00 to 15:00 daily

Trail runs
• The ELEPHANT Free Range Trail Run offers three of the most beautiful trails in the Knysna area. These are scheduled between 3 – 8 July at 09:00.
• The Momentum Health OatWell DualX, powered by PeptoPro, will be at the Festival for the first time this year and offers the best of both trail running and mountain biking. The start is at the Festival Pavilion on 7 July at 08:00.

A change of pace
• For those who’d like to take things at a slightly more relaxed place, also on the cards are bridge tournaments and bingo on 1 July, a bowls tournament from 4 – 7 July and the all-new Forest Family Dam Ride on 3 July.

For the full programme and details about all events, registration and ticket costs, please visit http://www.pnpoysterfestival.co.za/ or follow the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival on Twitter @OysterFestival or on Facebook/KnysnaOysterFestival for daily updates.

WARD ONE COUNCILLOR GROOTBOOM RESIGNS

Knysna Municipality has announced that Cllr Irene Grootboom, councillor for Knysna’s ward 1 (Sedgefield’s Smutsville, Cola Beach and The Island) announced her resignation from Council earlier today. Cllr Grootboom also served as member of the Mayoral Committee responsible for Community Services.

Knysna Executive Mayor expressed her thanks and appreciation to Cllr Grootboom for her service to people of Knysna over the last five years.

Her resignation is effectively immediately. Currently no reason has been given for her resignation.

ISLAND ROAD NAMES TO STAY THE SAME

The controversial renaming of the roads on Sedgefield’s Island suburb is not going to happen, and the old names will remain. This after the Knysna Municipality’s Street Naming Committee received numerous objections to the proposal. The original application to have the names changed was made back in 2012 by the standing Ratepayers committee, but only came up for consideration in January this year. Many local residents were happy with the idea of new road names, but many were against it – calling it a huge waste of tax payers’ money.