MATRIC FAREWELL SEASON

This is the wonderful time of the year when the matric students go all out to look their absolute smartest as they head off to celebrate the end of their school careers.
As Sedgefield has no high school, our teens traditionally finish their secondary education at various schools in George and Knysna. In this edition we have included as many of these schools’ Matric Farewell pictures as space would allow (see page 9), but couldn’t resist putting this wonderful shot by Emma Rorke on our front page. The lovely young lady is Robyn Gartsman and her partner Callum Reid.

DA FINDS OWN MAYOR GUILTY

In another twist to the political tale that has been Knysna Municipal Council over the last month or so, both Mayor Mark Willemse and Councillor Peter Myers have been found guilty of one violation of the DA Constitution in the disciplinary proceeding against them.
If the disciplinary panel’s sentencing recommendations are accepted by the party’s Provincial Executive Committee (PEC), their membership in the Democratic Alliance will be terminated unless they each agree to adhere to three conditions set by the hearing panel. At the time of going to press it is unknown whether the councillors intend to do this as the panel’s recommendations are still to be approved by the PEC.
In the interim, they will each retain their party membership, their posts as councillors, their positions on municipal committees, and in Mayor Willemse’s case, the mayorship.
The hearing, held in a boardroom at the Knysna Protea Hotel on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd August, was the continuation of the one originally started in Cape Town on Saturday, 7 July. It was opened to the public at the last minute, though space constraints only allowed for five or six additional people to witness the process first hand.
After hearing testimony from the councillors themselves, as well as witnesses including Sedgefield Councillors Cathy Weiderman and Levael Davis, Council Speaker Georlene Wolmarans and Western Cape MEC for Local Government Anton Bredell, both Willemse and Myers were found guilty of the single charge of voting against their party’s caucus – this in the Motion of No Confidence against the previous mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies which was proposed in the Knysna Council Chambers on Wednesday 6 June. This resulted in her losing the mayoral position and Willemse being voted in as mayor by Myers and opposition councillors.
Both pleaded not guilty to the charge, citing that they ‘voted their conscience’ based on what they alleged were acts of corruption and maladministration on the previous mayor’s part.
The Panel’s recommended sentences, based on notes taken at the hearing were as follows. Councillor Mark Willemse’s DA membership to be terminated with immediate effect. However, that termination is suspended providing that he adheres to three conditions. Firstly, he should remove Peter Myers from the Mayoral Committee within ten days of the PEC’s acceptance of the panel’s recommended sentence. Secondly, any media releases issued by his office should be approved in advance by the PEC, and thirdly he should go through the DA’s mayoral selection process. If he does not pass this selection process, he would have to resign immediately as mayor, but will remain a councillor. If he passes, then he will continue as Knysna’s mayor.
The panel also recommended that Councillor Peter Myers’ membership be terminated immediately, once again indicating that this sentence be suspended provided that he adhere to three conditions: that henceforth he attends all caucus meetings, that he resigns from the Mayoral Committee within 10 days of acceptance of the Panel’s recommendation by the PEC, and that he diligently adheres to the DA’s social media policy.
The panel’s recommended sentence provides that any violation of any of these conditions by Willemse of Myers will result in the lifting of the suspension of the sentence so that termination as a DA member takes immediate effect.
The Panel was composed of Kobus Leroux and two other members: Annelie Rabie, and Derrick America. Annelie Rabie is the mayor of Prince Albert, and Derrick America is the head of the Provincial disciplinary committee. The Committee Assistant (effectively the prosecutor) was Anton Coetsee.
Should Willemse and Myers be forced to leave the DA in this manner they will obviously no longer be councillors for their particular wards. This would necessitate by-elections for those wards, in which Willemse and Myers would be able to run, either representing another party or standing as independents.

THE POWER OF COMMUNITY

In recent weeks there has been much talk of the amazing things that might happen if the various communities of Sedgefield worked together for a common cause. The recent ‘Paint-a-thon’ at Smutsville Primary School was proof in the pudding!

On Saturday morning, 21 July, more than 80 locals descended on the school (officially known as Sedgefield Primer) with the common aim of sprucing it up for the kids and the staff. With so many volunteers in place, ranging from the very young to the very senior and coming from all walks of life, no less than twelve school classrooms were painted in five hours.

The initiative was driven by Ashley and Devon Basson. Ashley, a teacher at the school, had asked her husband to assist her in revamping her classroom when she arrived last year. The results were so impressive that they decided the other classrooms could do with the same treatment. They appealed for help from the public – and boy did they get it!

Principal Hariette Heyns and the School staff are very grateful for everyone’s input and look forward to many more projects that will improve the environment for the scholars at Sedgefield Primer.

KNYSNA COUNCILLOR MURDERED

UPDATED

SAPS have launched a full-scale investigation into the murder of Knysna’s Ward 8 Councillor, Victor Molosi (50). Preliminary reports are that the councillor was gunned down late last night (Monday, 23 July 2018) at about 22:00, only metres from his house in Concordia, Knysna.

It appears that Molosi was on his way home from a Governing Body meeting at Concordia High School when a gunman approached him and shot at him several times with an unidentified firearm. One of these was a head-shot. Though he was rushed to hospital in a private motor vehicle, he was declared dead on arrival.

Since the crime occurred, forensic experts and members of the SAPS K-9 Unit have been combing the scene for clues and gathered evidence.

No arrests have been made yet, and the motive is still to be established. An autopsy will be conducted on the body during the week to officially determine the cause of death.

“We appeal to anyone who can assist the investigating officer with information which may lead to an arrest and successful prosecution of the suspect to please contact Warrant Officer Reginus Quine, at 044 302 6652, 082 791 7676 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111,” says Captain Malcolm of SAPS Provincial Communications.

All information will be dealt with confidentially.

FROM KNYSNA MUNICIPAL OFFICES.

It is with great sadness that we announce the untimely death of Ward 8 Councillor, Victor Molosi. Cllr Molosi, Leader of the ANC in Council, was shot outside his house last night and later succumbed to his injuries.

Said Executive Mayor, Mark Willemse “We are devastated by the loss of a colleague who selflessly served  Greater Knysna with pride and dignity. We are privileged to have known and worked with Victor. He was a passionate contributor in council debates, advocating strongly on behalf of his Party and the community he served. Our thoughts go out to his wife Nomonde Molosi and their 4 children. May his soul rest in peace.”

Hamba kahle Freeze (as he was affectionately known)

Funeral arrangements will be communicated in due course.

COUNCIL ADDRESSES AVAILABILITY CHARGES FOR FIRE VICTIMS

At the Special Council meeting held Tuesday 17 July, Executive Mayor, Mark Willemse, tabled an item to review the availability charges levied on properties destroyed in last year’s fire.

The June 2017 fire disaster, the most catastrophic in the country’s history, left many destroyed properties in its wake. In an effort to provide relief to fire victims, Council resolved in August 2017 to waive the rates payable on these properties.

In terms of the municipal rates policy, these properties were then reclassified as vacant and consequently charged availability charges in terms of the approved council tariffs. Availability charges are generally higher than residential and is aimed to encourage owners to build as soon as possible. These charges are implemented by all municipalities in the country.

However, it was never the intention of the council to penalize fire victims. Having listened to various submissions from individuals and organisations, Council instructed the administration to prepare a review on these charges.

Tuesday’s decision seeks to rectify Council’s intentions. The impact of the resolution is as follows:

  1. Availability charges raised will be waived for the 2017/18 financial year on those properties that were totally destroyed by the fire;
  2. These properties will be charged as if they were residential properties (i.e as they were before the fire);
  3. A credit will be passed for the difference, and
  4. Where the property has been sold, the credit will be payable to the previous owner of the property.

The municipality promotes working together to create an environment that is responsive, accountable, effective and efficient for local communities.

LOCALS UNITE TO ADDRESS HOUSING

Though there was much negativity surrounding the Smutsville housing riots of last month, one positive result is that the greater Sedgefield community has unified in common determination to address the issue.
Sedgefield residents from all walks of life have been meeting in attempts to plan a way forward for the community, particularly in relation to the delivery of land for housing in Smutsville by local, provincial and national government.
Whilst the riots of last month were certainly the catalyst that brought this humanitarian problem to the fore, non-delivery of housing in Smutsville is definitely not a new issue. Indeed, as members of the ‘Lank Gewag’ group will attest, the protest action only erupted when decades of sitting patiently on official waiting lists produced no results.
Since the dark day that was 15 June, when Smutsville became a war zone in battle with riot police, and surrounding suburbs faced the terrifying sight of burning tyres rolling down the dune, there has followed a determined effort to understand all facets of the land and housing problem, and various discussion groups have been formed to engage with affected community members.
Whilst there has been much exchanging of ideas as all the differing angles of this problem are identified, the common agreement has been that government needs to act sooner rather than later, and that the greater Sedgefield community should do everything in its power to ensure this happens and that the municipality puts top priority on the process.
It is made obvious by comments on social media and various WhatsApp groups that the topic is still a very sensitive one, but for the most part, the view that the village – including Smutsville /Sizamile – is ONE SEDGEFIELD, has become the mantra that is pulling everyone together.
Meanwhile, following the site visit of Human Settlements Provincial Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela and meetings with Knysna Municipality, the Lank Gewag Committee representing the Smutsville Community have been getting mixed messages as to whether or not certain Municipal land in that area could be occupied. They say the Minister had given them the go-ahead, but the municipal officials had overturned this decision.
When they asked the minister for clarity he despatched the WC Chief Director of Human Settlements Phila Mayisela to meet with the committee in situ. After visiting the area and spending time with the Lank Gewag members, Mayisela eventually asked that she be given until 23 July to facilitate a solution. They have agreed to her request and await her positive response.
The ONE SEDGEFIELD group has meanwhile begun its campaign to ensure the community’s concerns are recognised and responded to as a matter of urgency by the Municipality and Provincial Government.
NB: A public meeting with Democratic Alliance Western Cape MEC Alan Winde, Political Head of Knysna Constituency, is to be held at 18h00 for 18h30 at Sedgefield Town Hall on Wednesday 11 July (the date of this publication).

A GIANT FAREWELL

by Melanie Baumeister
On Friday 29 June a wounded juvenile Humpback whale beached itself on the shores of Sedgefield between Swartvlei and The river-mouth, causing a heartfelt stir amongst our local, nature-loving community.
Almost immediately on site was scientific guide and marine biologist, Mark Dixon, who was able to confirm the extent of the whale’s injuries and, as it turned out, record the sad farewell of this immense mammal. According to the very moving footage posted on You-Tube the same day by Mark, the young creature sang its last song just before 14h00.
On Saturday 30 June, Cape Nature and SANParks conducted biometric measurements and biopsy sampling – skin, blubber and muscle samples were taken from the back, tail and wound area. Baleen (the whale’s mouth) samples were taken from the upper jaw and various length measurements were made with an overall length of 8.83m being recorded. The wounds, though not confirmed by forensic examination, did indicate possible Orca Whale or shark attack.
There have been numerous public enquiries as to why the animal was not dissected to check for stomach contents – and while there is a pressing need to check if plastic ingestion contributed to the death of the whale, there are some good reasons as to why this would not be viable: Permissions from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), the South African authority which has jurisdiction over marine animals, are notoriously hard to acquire – it is almost impossible to get as an individual and it would be up to an organisation to submit a permit request.
Since the beaching occurred on a Friday the weekend became a bureaucratic obstacle too. As for experienced personnel to perform the operation – one was overseas at an international conference and the other unavailable. Even with red tape aside, the position and size of the creature would have made such a dissection logistically challenging and very expensive to even attempt.
As a result, it was decided to bury the whale where she lay, on Friday 6 July. In a combined exercise by SANParks and Knysna Municipality, a pit was excavated and the carcass laid to rest. Two earth moving machines were used, a front-end loader and a TLB compacting the sand at the base after the pit was dug. Then, in a series of manoeuvres, the carcass was rolled into the hole and covered up. Proceedings started at 10h00 and finished at 12h15.
It was noted before the whale was buried that part of the tail and a fin had been clandestinely removed from the carcass. While it is unsure whether this was for traditional medicine, illegal wildlife trade or simply as a souvenir, whoever did it came well prepared and knew what they were doing. Cuts on the tail and around the pectoral region indicated they knew where to cut between the joints to avoid sawing through bone, suggesting that this isn’t the work of a souvenir collector.
Sadness aside, from an educational point of view the presence of the whale carcass has been an ideal learning experience, with some schools arranging trips to see the huge mammal. Even during the burial, two groups arrived to learn about whales in particular and the dangers of plastics to our environment. In the passing of this magnificent young creature, Sedgefielders have had the opportunity to observe a marine event right up close and personal.
The Edge would like to extend our thanks to Mark Dixon of Garden Route Trails for providing us with all the necessary information, and for his communications with all the parties involved so that the community could be kept abreast of events as they happened.

A DAY NO-ONE WILL FORGET

It is hoped that an agreement between the Smutsville community and Knysna Municipality, with input from the Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela, will calm residents and prevent a reoccurrence of the recent riots in Sedgefield. This said, nothing has been finalised yet, and proposals originally made may well have changed, so the entire community waits with bated breath.
Friday 15 June 2018 will surely be remembered by Sedgefield residents as the day things very nearly fell apart. It was a day of anger, a day of violence, commotion, and emotionally charged frustration. It was also a day that boiling points were reached and where misunderstanding fuelled animosity and a great deal of distrust.
Burning tyres, blocked roads, clashes with riot police, tear gas, rubber bullets – these are not things that Sedgefielders can relate to, being a community that for the most part lives in peace with one another. So the chaos of that day has left many shocked and bewildered as to how it could have happened.
In the weeks before, a housing protest by a number of residents in a group called ‘Lank Gewag’ got the ball rolling. Earlier in the month they had started marking out plots on Municipal property on the southern side of the dune above the Smutsville School. This was after decades of sitting on housing waiting lists and listening to what they describe as empty promises from municipal representatives. Even then, when their unofficial demarcation got the attention of the Municipality, the members agreed to halt any construction pending a meeting with the Municipal Housing Department set for five days later.
But the cancellation of this meeting was the final straw, and the group decided to escalate their campaign to get their voices heard. On the evening of Thursday 8 June they started mobilising members to join a ‘toi toi’. Tyres were lit at the intersection of Volstruis and Oestervanger, the entrance to Smutsville, and the group immediately had the attention of local law enforcement.
“But we still wanted it to be a peaceful protest,” one of the Lank Gewag committee members later told us.
Fearing the worst, local authorities called in back-up including SAPS members from the Crime Prevention Unit. No-one is sure who spooked who in the early hours of the next morning, but the first ‘shots’ – either tear gas canisters or rubber bullets – were reportedly heard at 4.48am and from then on things very quickly got out of hand. The demonstration quickly degenerated into an all-out riot, resulting in injury, damage to property and, perhaps less visible but no less important, the serious damage of trust and relationships.
It was a recipe for disaster. The numbers of angry residents grew as the community became more and more incensed by the huge police presence, which soon included the armed and armoured members of Public Order Police Service (riot police). The streets of Smutsville/Sizamile became a war zone. Rocks were thrown by adrenaline charged, adolescents who seemed fearless in the face of the authorities, whilst volleys of rubber bullets and teargas from the riot police were indiscriminate.
In a quieter moment, journalists on the scene were shown doors to family homes that had been kicked down, one resident describing how she had stood in front of her handicapped son when the riot police had burst in shooting. Another, on the other side of Smutsville and still dressed in her pajamas, complained that her eight month old baby was battling to breathe after a teargas canister had landed on their property whilst they were still in bed.
Residents showed welts and bruises where they had been shot with rubber bullets, some numerous times. Many claimed they had had nothing to do with the riot – but had still fallen victim to the SAPS members’ determined ‘all or nothing’ approach.
“We took a beating. Smutsville took a serious beating,” one community leader later told us.
Meanwhile, Sedgefield residents living in the Groenvallei and Meedingsride areas watched in horror and no small amount of panic, as protesters – mostly adolescents – set tyres on fire and attempted to roll them down the hill towards the homes below. One man threw a burning mattress down whilst others, realising the bush was too thick to let the tyres through, started throwing petrol bombs. Police members, Security tactical teams and COP volunteers fought hard to get the youngsters, who seemed bent on destruction, off the dune whilst firefighters, with the assistance of the ‘Working on Fire’ helicopter, managed to extinguish the flames.
In Smutsville seven people had been arrested and were in custody. Whilst there seemed to be no more shooting there was still a great deal of anger and frustration. Eventually, it was down to a standoff on Oestervanger Street, with members of the community filling the road and car park outside the USAVE shopping centre, and the armed riot police forming a human wall across the road further down.
The arrival of Mayor Mark Willemse, and Municipal Manager Kam Chetty did little to calm the crowd down, and though the mayor listened to the demands presented by the community, which included the release of the protesters in custody, the crowd was too fired up to take heed of his attempts to explain the process forward. When it became clear that those arrested would remain in custody, the protesters bristled even more, and as the Mayor walked back to his vehicle with a police escort, a stone was thrown in his direction. In retaliation, the riot police immediately opened fire at the crowd.
Pandemonium ensued. As residents young and old scrambled to get out of the line of fire, people stumbled and tripped over one another. Some fell as they were hit by rubber bullets, others were trampled underfoot in the melee. Probably the worst injured was Doreen Nguma (53) whose leg was totally snapped just above the ankle. As the chaos moved past her into Smutsville the ambulance could come in and whisk her off to hospital. At the time of going to press she is still there.
Things eventually became calmer, though there were isolated incidents of unrest for the rest of the day.
The following morning, whilst the greater Sedgefield community was still reeling in shock, it seemed some good news for the Smutsvillers finally arrived in the form of Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela. He and Knysna Municipality’s Housing Manager Mawethu Penxa met with a committee of residents and together they went to the various potential housing sites around Smutsville.
Madikizela told the committee that the municipal land behind the school – which had been earmarked by ‘Lank Gewag’ – was available for the residents to put up their informal homes, as long as they agreed to allow space for services to be put in at a later date, planning for which would be demarcated by the municipality.

This was confirmed at a meeting two days later in which the Lank Gewag committee sat with Penxa and members of his team. Housing waiting lists were also discussed – with a plan to ‘clean them up’ for accuracy, so that the correct amount of beneficiaries could be ascertained. The committee gave the municipality until Saturday 30th June to finalise the plan.

A follow-up meeting was held a week later (25 June), and whilst the committee was not prepared to tell the media what changes or new proposals were put on the table by the municipality, it was evident that all was not well. Rather than release any information themselves, they have requested that the Municipal Manager and other relevant officials attend the public meeting at 7pm on 27 June (the date of this publication) to explain to the community exactly what the plan is.

MAYORAL CONTROVERSY

(Picture: New Knysna Executive Mayor Mark Willemse (right) with new Deputy Mayor Elrick van Aswegan)

This last week has been an unprecedented time for local politics, with councillors voting for their opposition and party leadership instructing their newly elected mayor to resign.

At the time of going to press, the DA’s Councillor Mark Willemse was in his fifth day as the new Executive Mayor of Knysna. Whilst this could change any moment if the DA provincial leaders have their way, there are many local residents who are determined that he should stay, including members of the Knysna Ratepayers Association.

This turn of events started last week when a strategic move in Knysna Council Chambers ousted the then Mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies, and saw ANC and other opposition parties voting Willemse in to take her place.

This most extraordinary council meeting was held on Wednesday 6 June, with the agenda including approval of the IDP (Integrated Development Plan), Mayor Eleanore Bouw Spies’ presentation and the approval of the Annual Budget, and a ‘vote of no confidence’ in the Mayor, tabled by the ANC, who cited “failure to perform her duties and ensure service delivery in the greater Knysna area, and effective functioning of the council” as the reasons.

The meeting quickly turned into a political circus when the parties erupted into a shouting match, with neither side giving the other a chance to speak. DA Speaker Georlene Wolmarans could do little to control the goings on, because opposition councillors were determined to challenge her decision to keep the ‘vote of no confidence’ as the last item on the agenda.

They insisted that such an important item should be moved up to be addressed earlier, suggesting that a budget proposed by a Mayor who could lose her position on the same day simply didn’t make sense. But whilst the Speaker does have the authority to move items up and down the agenda, Wolmarans would have none of it, despite the continuous clamour from around the council table.

After several adjournments, including a meeting of the chief whips in an attempt to calm things down, and a caucus meeting for both the ANC and the DA, the ANC and other parties finally agreed to follow the agenda in its original format.

It seemed it was back to business as usual as Mayor Bouw-Spies presented the IDP and Budget, both of which were approved by council. But when the time came for the vote of no confidence, seven of the ten DA Councillors left the chambers, not wishing to take part in the vote. The three remaining were Speaker Georlene Wolmarans, ex Deputy Mayor Peter Myers, and Ward 9 Councillor Mark Willemse. A vote ensued and, with only Speaker Wolmarans voting against the motion, Bouw-Spies was officially no longer the Executive Mayor. The Speaker then left the chambers, and once the remaining councillors had voted in an ‘acting speaker’ , Willemse was elected Executive Mayor of Knysna, with COPE’s Ricky van Aswegan his Deputy.

This sent the DA’s top dogs into a total spin, with Western Cape leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela, vehemently labeling the affair as a ‘coup’, and accusing Willemse and Myers of colluding with the opposition for their own gain.
“It is protocol that when members of a caucus lose confidence in their Mayor, they notify the party in order to get concurrence to vote with their conscience. This is established practice to ensure that the party stays informed of its governments. It can never be acceptable for any member of the party to make such a decision without notifying the party on matters that have such huge ramifications as we’ve seen in Knysna,” he said in a press release issued from his office.

On Friday Madikizela and DA Provincial Chairperson Anton Bredell rushed through to meet with the Knysna DA Caucus, and have since put pressure on Willemse to resign from his new Mayoral post.
“(Willemse) is also the Eden District Speaker and therefore by law cannot accept a second executive position,” Madikizela’s press release stated, “Secondly, voting with your conscience becomes questionable if you are the direct beneficiary, which is the case here.”

But the only resignation letter the new Executive Mayor has tendered is for his position as Eden Speaker, which he handed in on Monday 11 June.

Willemse is certainly not without support, and it is quite evident that not everyone shares the DA hierarchy’s views on this issue. The new mayor’s appointment has been referred to as ‘A rare victory for democracy’ by the Knysna Ratepayers Association (KRA) who have publicly pledged their support for Willemse in the following statements.
“With two DA councillors against the nine of the opposition, the ANC could have taken over the town, yet remarkably councillors unanimously elected a DA Mayor. In doing so they proved that they had no self-interest and truly wanted to rescue Knysna from its poor leadership.”
“The only real opposition seems to be from DA’s masters in Cape Town. They would be well-advised to back off, and not to interfere. Intent on advancing the political fortunes of the former mayor, they have inexplicably turned a deaf ear to the complaints of Knysna’s residents for the past two years. Support for the DA in Knysna has evaporated during that period, but their masters in Cape Town have blithely ignored this.”
“Mayor Mark Willemse has our full confidence and support. We respect him for committing to his oath of office and for acting in the interest of Knysna. The support from the people of Knysna is overwhelming. The people’s message to Cape Town is clear: our town requires honest and principled leadership. We wish him strength for the task that awaits him.”

TAKING A STAND ON LAND

Thursday evening and Friday morning saw over 100 Smutsville residents each claiming part of a tract of municipal-owned land, and ‘marking their claim’ with building tape. The land in question being the large tract behind and to the left of the Smutsville School, bordering on the Smutsville cemetery.

With ‘land invasions’ being a controversial current topic which regularly makes national media headlines, other Sedgefield residents became convinced that this local action could be the start of something far more sinister, and it wasn’t long before a panic was raised on social media.

However, since then assurances have been given by those on the land that this is not what it seems. The group, who are calling themselves ‘Lank Gewag’, say that this is a challenge to the municipality to fast-track the allocation of land and the building of subsidised housing, especially to those who have been on waiting lists for so long. They claim that they are second and third generation residents of Smutsville who have listened to unfulfilled promises for decades.

“Some of us have been on these lists for over twenty years, and we are still camping in the backyards of our parents’ and grandparents’ homes,” explained Vemesia Galant, a born and bred Sedgefielder who is married with three children.

She is one of the ten-strong committee representing 104 Lank Gewag’ families. Andrew Solomons, the group’s spokesperson, gave more detail.
“So many people who have lived here their whole lives have patiently waited for housing, following the law and the process, but never getting anywhere,” he told us, “Meanwhile others have arrived, taken land illegally, and built informal houses.”

104 plots were marked out in the end, starting out on Thursday night and continuing on through Friday. On Saturday morning Municipal Law Enforcement visited the site and asked the people clearing if they could at least refrain from putting up any structures, pending a meeting with the Municipality’s Manager for Integrated Human Settlements Mawethu Penxa on Wednesday 13 June. Later Councillor Levael Davis arrived with the same request, and they agreed.

However the land committee were later informed that the meeting had been canceled as Penxa would be in Cape Town. Councillor Davies suggested a meeting on Tuesday, but only with the committee, but when this suggestion was put to the entire group they all challenged the idea, saying that if Penxa was available to meet with the committee – then why could he not meet with all of them?
“I phoned Levael to give him this instruction from the community, and he told me that the Wednesday meeting had not been confirmed. He said the matter was now out of his hands, and Mawethu (Penxa) would have to sort it out,” said Solomons.

After discussing this with all the Lank Gewag members on Monday evening, the decision was made for a petition to be delivered to the Municipal Manager, insisting that by 10am Thursday morning the Municipality should provide a concise plan for the immediate allocation of land for housing. If this did not happen the Lank Gewag group would meet again to decide what action they would take.

“There are subsidised houses being built all over Greater Knysna,” said Solomons, “But who can remember when last any were built here in Sedgefield?”

Asked for comment, the Knysna Municipal Manager said:
“The municipality is aware of the recent developments in Sedgefield (Ward 1). A housing meeting to discuss the integrated human settlements strategies and plans for the Ward has been scheduled for Monday 18 June 2018.

The municipality wishes to unequivocally state that it is opposed to any land invasions. We urge the community to refrain from any unlawful activity and we appeal to them to cooperate with the municipality in this regard.

Knysna Municipality will have no option but to enforce and uphold the law and will, therefore, be compelled to remove any illegal structures on invaded land.”