C.O.P ISSUES CRIME ALERT

The following is a warning from Community Orientated Policing (COP).
This past week has seen a sudden spike in burglaries throughout Sedgefield. In fact we have not seen such activity for a very long time. Should this trend continue, we will definitely be on par with crime that occurred back in 2009/2010 (according to figures gathered by Sedgefield Community Intelligence Centre – SCIC)..Current Modus Operandi’s are as follows:
1) One particular criminal is targeting properties at night, despite residents being at home or not. On one particular evening this past week, he targeted several properties along Flamingo, Heron Walk & Crane Walk. Despite a presence of COP, ADT & SAPS personnel, he continued to move between properties in the dark. In one incident, he was cornered by a resident in a property where he attempted to steal laptops and a handbag, but managed to slip away after dropping the goods. We believe the same individual returned to the Sedgehill area last night, only to throw a brick through a window and snatch a laptop whilst the residents were in the house. This individual is brazen!!
2) Another group of criminals have been breaking through house roofs by removing the tiles, climbing into the ceiling and, in most cases disabling the alarm system, before selectively stealing jewelry and cash. These incidents have occurred when the residents have left the house for a period of only 1 to 2 hours.
We can assure you that these criminals sit and watch your property and hit it as soon as you leave. They are professional as they know how to get past the perimeter areas which are not covered by detector beams. They also know exactly where and how to disable your alarm system before it can notify the security company.

We are appealing to all residents to please be more vigilant and to take every precaution possible to avoid being a target. If you believe your house or a neighbours house is being watched by criminals, or if you think there is a prowler doing his rounds, call us immediately on 0745067242.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

With such feelings about the continued problem of dangerously poor service from SAPS, simply due to lack of manpower and other resources for Sedgefield and surrounding areas, the local Ratepayers, Community Orientated Policing and other role-players in the crime protection field have taken the bull by the horns and asked for answers at provincial level, through the following open letter.

OPEN LETTER FROM SEDGEFIELD RATEPAYERS AND RESIDENTS.
TO DAN PLATO, WESTERN CAPE MEC FOR COMMUNITY SAFETY, AND CLUSTER COMMANDER MAJOR GENERAL REDDY
WITH REGARD TO LACK OF SAPS SERVICE TO KNYSNA SECTORS 5 AND 6 (SEDGEFIELD / KARATARA / RHEENENDAAL), WE WOULD LIKE TO POINT OUT THE FOLLOWING.
1. Over the last 20 years the population in Sedgefield, Karatara, Rheenendal and Buffalo Bay has quadrupled to an estimated permanent population of 15 000 (info from Knysna Municipality).This figure at least doubles over the seasonal holidays.
2. Other towns much smaller in area and considerably lower in population have fully fledged police stations.
3. Sedgefield was promised a fully fledged station ‘by the end of the year’ back in 2004 by SAPS Director Dirk Mentoor. At the time we were informed we were third on the list. To date nothing has happened.
4. The existing satellite station has no holding cells. On more than one occasion, the community has offered to build and fund holding cells – this has been turned down each time with the promise of a new police station. In some instances criminals apprehended have escaped whilst incarcerated at the inadequate police station.
5. Land situated in a better position than the current satellite station ie. more easily accessible to the low income groups, has been offered by the Municipality to SAPS Management. Once again this has not been accepted by SAPS.
6. On most occasions there is only one SAPS vehicle available. Often it is in Knysna – 25kms away, Karatara – 21kms or Rheenendal – 27 kms.  This leaves the village open for criminal activity. It is common to wait several hours or sometimes days for response.
7. Most of the local residents know that the two police shift changes which take place daily, leave the various outlying sectors without any form of policing or response to complaints whatsoever. This open window period is often used by criminals to commit crimes.
8. Sedgefield has a huge drug problem – with almost ‘open trading’ because SAPS do not have the resources to police this. This results in the lack of control of criminal activity. Children are finding crime attractive as there does not seem to be a consequence to criminal actions.
9. Neighbourhood Watches and Community Policing are having to take on more and more of SAPS responsibilities on a first responder basis. This puts them in dangerous positions. Residents are also starting to take the law into their own hands – there are obvious dangers associated with this too.
10. Lack of trust in SAPS is growing. Residents are no longer reporting crime as they fear reprisal and no protection from SAPS. They are also not reporting because it is believed to be a waste of time.
11. There is a low conviction rate – no doubt due to overworked and understaffed detective and police units. Growing disrespect for SAPS from offenders, who are happy with the good chance of being back on the streets soon.
12. Complaints to Knysna Police Station Commander have yielded no results.
We appeal to the above persons to consider the plight of this town and its residents and install the fully fledged police station as promised years ago. In the meantime we ask for the current station to be reasonably staffed and equipped so that we are not left at the mercy of criminals.
A copy of this letter has been forwarded to MEC Plato’s offices and those of Cluster Commander Major General Reddy, as well as our local SAPS chain of command. At time of going to press no response had been received.

SEDGE MELODRAMA HITS THE STAGE

Last night saw the long awaited opening of one of Sedgefield’s favourite shows – The Melodrama – or ‘Melo-Mix’ as the 2016 edition has been billed.

Judging by the reaction of the audience on preview night (when the elderly residents from Sedgefield and Smutsville were treated to a sneak preview) ticket holders will be in for a grand show.

The enthusiastic cast of nineteen locals have certainly pulled out all the stops for director/producer Bev Fowler, and the months of rehearsing not only dance moves but lip syncing and some seriously rapid costume changes are finally ready for public enjoyment.

And the hard work has certainly not been limited to those on stage. The crew operating ‘behind the scenes’ have been equally busy, not to mention those responsible for ‘front of house’, ticket sales and everything else connected with running a successful show.
Since its inception in 2009 the Sedgefield Melodrama has always been such a win-win recipe for the community. Whilst audiences get to laugh at the antics of local folks (from teachers to hairdressers to estate agents to lifesavers) stepping so far out of their comfort zones that they probably get dizzy, the many thousands of Rands raised provide a huge boost to Sedgefield’s charities.

Indeed in the last seven years almost R800 000 has been raised – including last year’s ‘Melomania’ which hit the R115 000 mark!

This year the benefiting charities will include The Living Cornerstone Home for Alzheimer’s Patients, Masithandane Early Childhood Development Centre, Slow Town Mobile Meals, Laerskool Sedgefield Primary, LifeLine Sedgefield, NSRI Wilderness, Sedgefield Animal Matters and Fresh Start.

There are still tickets available at Sedgefield Tourism Offices (044 343 2007) Show dates left are Thursday 25, Friday 26 and Tuesday 30 August, as well as Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd September. It is run on a ‘bring your own picnic’ basis. Tickets are R90 per person and tables seat eight.

MAN SIGNS AWAY FREEDOM

A man who burgled his employer’s house on The Island and left a threatening note was obviously so impressed with his work that he signed it. This eventually led to his undoing.
On Saturday 20 August Johan Lombard was at home on Lorraine Street, The Island, having lunch with his family. He hadn’t been inside long when he realised he had left his wallet in his bakkie which had been parked around the back of his house. When he went outside he found the wallet was lying open on the floor of his vehicle. All the cash was gone.
“Whoever took it must have known to walk around the whole house to find the vehicle,” he later reasoned.

The next day he and his wife and two young children spent the afternoon canoeing on Swartvlei. On their arrival home at about 5.45pm, he heard the noise of gushing water from the toilet attached to his garage. He went to investigate and saw the top of the cistern had been crushed – it seemed obvious that someone had climbed on hit as there were foot marks on the wall behind.
“The water was gushing out , but hadn’t pooled on the floor yet,” said Lombard “So I realised that whatever had happened, it must have happened only seconds earlier.”

He shouted to his wife, Karen, to call the police. She did this, asking the SAPS member to please hurry because the intruder may well still be in the nearby vicinity.
SAPS did not arrive at that stage and, after checking the garden, Johan took a drive around the neighborhood to see if any suspicious characters were lurking around.
He came across an ADT vehicle and told the driver the story. He was then given the number of a Neighborhood Watch member whom he called when he got back home. Whilst he had been driving, Karen had discovered that most of their electronic goods had been stolen.

Minutes after the call to the neighbourhood watch the whole place was buzzing with people. SAPS also arrived after a further call – and Johan later learned that the delay had been because a message hadn’t been passed on between the outgoing and incoming shifts.
“Once they were there they were exceptionally professional,” he said, “I was quite impressed.”

He went to work the following day and noticed that one of his staff members was absent. It was that evening, whilst sitting at his PC, that Johan found a chilling message scrawled on a piece of scrap paper on his desk.
“I want to kill you.” it read – with a signature next to it.
After staring at the horrifying note for a while, Johan started looking closely at the signature, thinking it was a little familiar. On a hunch he looked through his work receipts for places where his staff had signed and that’s where he found a match! According to Johan it was the same staff member who had missed work that day .

The next morning, after sleuthing around and asking questions, he learned of someone who claimed he had seen the man with a tablet, with a picture of a Lombard family member on it.
He rushed to the police station and shared this new information, only to get the surprise of his life a few minutes later, when the suspect himself walked in. He claimed that he had been looking for Johan to apologise for being late, and had been told his boss was at the station.

Sensing what was happening by Johan’s reaction, the Warrant Officer called the suspect over and informed him that he was a suspect. He later told Johan that he had asked him to write down the same threatening phrase and sign it – and this was another match!

Johan continued his investigation, tracing the suspect’s movements, and eventually found a home where a lot of his stolen goods had been stored. He also found several witnesses to the fact that the man had been seen with the stolen property. After returning to the station with this information, a detective went back with him to take statements from these witnesses.
Armed with all this information, they returned again to the station to fetch the suspect, and, after handcuffing him, asked him to take them to his home where more of the stolen property was recovered.

The investigation is still ongoing, but there’s no doubt that the next time this suspect uses his signature will be on his bail application.

IT’S OFFICIAL – DA TO GOVERN KNYSNA

With a coalition agreement with Ward 4 Independent Councillor Velile Waxa, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has once again secured control of the Greater Knysna Municipality. This was made public at the inaugural Council Meeting held at Council Chambers on Monday 15 August. 

Good news for Sedgefield is that both the village’s ward Councillors – Levael Davis (Ward 1) and Cathy Weideman (Ward 2) have been elected for the 5 strong Mayoral Committee (MAYCO) – Davies holding the Technical Services portfolio and Weideman that of Community Services. Serving with them on the committee will be Executive Mayor – Eleanore Bouw-Spies,  Deputy Executive Mayor and Chairperson of Finance, Governance & Economic Development Peter Myers, and  Velile Waxa who will hold the Planning & Integrated Human Settlements portfolio.

During the recent Local Government Elections the DA won six out of the 11 wards situated within Greater Knysna. The final official results from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) gave the DA 10 out of the 21 available seats in Council. Cope received one, as did the ACDP and the Knysna Unity Congress and the last remaining seat went to Independent Councillor Waxa.

After several meetings the DA entered into the coalition agreement with stalwart Waxa – resulting in the DA now officially being the party that will govern Knysna for the next five years.

At the first council meeting the newly elected Knysna Executive Mayor, Eleanore Bouw-Spies said that they will now put their much published manifesto to work in governing Knysna on the following five pillars: the opportunity town; the safe town; the caring town; the inclusive town; and the well-run town.

“We already have an approved budget in place to ensure that we can fulfill all we promised within our Election Campaign Manifesto,” said Mayor Bouw-Spies

She further gave the undertaking that the DA will continue to work hard to foster growth and delivery within Greater Knysna. “We will now continue our work towards a better future for all residents by delivering excellent services and achieving reconciliation through redress.”

Bouw-Spies says that public participation is something that she is passionate about. To her the effective handling of community queries and communication is of utmost importance. “The public participation and communications departments should sit side by side. Ward committee meetings should be attended by both. If matters are reported, discussed or decided on, there should be a communication strategy in place to ensure implementation is reported on and questions that arise get addressed. This is crucial and close to my heart.”

She adds that that economic growth within Greater Knysna remains one of the priorities. “When we have economic growth in Greater Knysna it creates job opportunities, this is why it is so important to continue to grow Knysna as a centre for business.”

According to Bouw-Spies the DA council also undertakes to stop corruption by increasing resident’s awareness of their anti-corruption hotline and anti-fraud policy. The DA has already taken steps to tighten up their Supply Chain Policy to comply fully with the relevant legislation.

 

The new Speaker of Council is Georlene Wolmarans.

The Municipal Council of the Greater Knysna consists of :

Ward 1 Levael Davis [DA]
Ward 2 Cathy Weideman [DA]
Ward 3 Mncendisi Skosana [ANC]
Ward 4 Velile Waxa [Independent]
Ward 5 Eleanore Bouw-Spies [DA]
Ward 6 Elrick van Aswegen [Cope]
Ward 7 Mandla Matiwani [ANC]
Ward 8 Victor Molosi [ANC]
Ward 9 Mark Willemse [DA]
Ward 10 Peter Myers [DA]
Ward 11 Donovan Pofadder [DA]

The 10 PR councillors will be made up of four DA, four ANC, one KUC and one ACDP. These PR councillors to be inducted are as follows:
DA
Georlene Wolmarans
Luzuko Tyokolo
Martin Young
Sbusisu Kwinina
ANC
Ndoda Aubrey Tsengwa
Titi Elizabeth Gombo
Claudine Denise Croutz
Millicent Ntombise Naki
ACDP
Shakespeare Arends
KUC
Welcome Salaze

In closing Bouw-Spies welcomed all to council and said that she is excited about the upcoming five years. “I welcome our opposition and look forward to vigorous debates. We are not scared of the opposition and know that through them Greater Knysna will experience a completely transparent Local Government, one that bides by legislature and one that is free of corruption.”

NSRI ASSISTS FIGHTING WILDERNESS BLAZE

At approximately 16h00, Thursday, 11th August, NSRI Wilderness volunteers activated to assist with multiple fires that had spread rapidly across George, Wilderness and the Hoekwil areas.

It is believed that fires started in the bushes during Berg winds and in the heat of the wind fires spread rapidly threatening properties and homes.

NSRI Wilderness volunteers assisted in the Wilderness area protecting houses, assisting with First Aid and assisting Fire and Rescue Services and Emergency Services who were deployed to fight multiple fires that had spread across George, Wilderness and the Hoekwil areas.

Sadly at least 4 houses have been razed to the ground in Wilderness in scenes described as chaotic and that saw Emergency Services teams from the George and Wilderness Fire and Rescue Services, the WC Government Health EMS, Traffic Services, the SA Police Services, Disaster Risk Management, Working on Fire teams and two helicopters battling multiple fires spread across the area

Home owners, business owners and members of the public joined forces with the Emergency Services to assist.

Everyone came together to help to assist wherever possible, said NSRI Wilderness station commander Hennie Niehaus.

Fire teams are continuing to monitor the situation through the night and it is believed that the fires have mostly been brought under control. The Eden District Disaster Risk Management are providing updates to keep the public informed.

It is believed that no serious injuries were reported.

TO REPORT A SEA RESCUE EMERGENCY DIAL 112 FROM A CELLPHONE

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