In a time where smiles are few and far between, it was wonderful to see the happy faces at the Masithandane ‘Free on a Tree’ day, held on Saturday 25 May at the village green.

The concept is simple. The popular local charity has an annual collection of winter clothes – mostly jackets and jerseys – which are all donated by kind individuals and businesses in the area.
Then, as Free on a Tree day dawns, there is a flurry of activity on the green as the Masithandane team hangs everything up ‘boutique-style’.

Once this beautiful open-air store is ready, the day is declared officially open and anyone who wants something warm to wear may come along, browse for the best fit, and choose …. for free!

Such was the generosity this year that an estimated 23 black bags / boxes of jackets and jerseys were donated leading up to Saturday, then more dropped off on the day by the Sedgefield Meerkats and Cubs.

Over 100 people came along to ‘shop’, and though the rules were one item per person, a ‘second round’ was declared so people could take another item for someone at home. Many of the jackets were donated by Tony and Candice of SAMS 2nd Hand in Knysna, whilst many others were dropped off at the EDGE, Deo Gratia and Masithandane by churches and members of the public. There was also a fantastic donation of blankets from Sedgefield Lions, and some lovely knitted beanies from a generous lady.

Thank you everyone!

Picture by Deidré Cloete. Rescuers working tirelessly at the site of the Victoria Street building collapse.

This last week has been a roller coaster of emotion for many local residents, and indeed most of South Africa, as a result of the collapse of the multi-storey building in Victoria Street, George, resulting in the tragic loss of so many lives and serious injury to others on-site at the time.

At time of going to press (6pm Tuesday 14 May) the death toll had reached 33 (27 male and 6 female), with 19 people still not found.

With 81 souls in the building when it collapsed, many were trapped under layers of concrete rubble – it has been a race against the clock to retrieve those who managed to survive the collapse before they succumb to injuries, or indeed, lack of oxygen, food and water.

The tragedy, which has made international news, occurred on Monday, 6 May, at 14:09, with the initial emergency call being made within five minutes. At first, details were vague, with reports of a ‘collapse of scaffolding’ doing the rounds, but as emergency services arrived on the scene, the enormity of the situation became clear.

As construction of the ill-fated building was already more or less complete, the unfortunate souls working inside it when it collapsed were mostly teams of subcontractors – from painters to tilers to electricians.
Over the ensuing hours, multiple Disaster Service personnel, including medical services and Saps Search & Rescue teams, rushed to the scene. They were soon joined by emergency personnel from the City of Cape Town and Worcester Disaster Services and the Western Cape Provincial Disaster Services. Since then, approximately 200 emergency and other dedicated personnel, along with search and rescue dogs, have been tirelessly working at the site.

A Joint Operations Control Centre has been set up to deal with logistics, with Provincial Disaster Management personnel of the highest level sharing their expertise in directing operations.

Family and friends of victims rushed to the scene as they received news of the collapse. With the danger of further injury on site, they were directed to the nearby municipal buildings to wait for news. As hours turn to days, their ongoing plight can only be imagined. The Department of Social Services and Correctional Services Social Workers have been present to try to assist the families in dealing with their grief.

Volunteers poured in to offer help, working primarily on the perimeters of the site, keeping out of the way of danger, but providing invaluable assistance in the carting away of rubble, looking after the well-being of the rescue team and handing out vital refreshments, etc.

Meanwhile, the name of the developers of the building, Neo Victoria Developments, has been released. George Mayor Leon van Wyk confirmed that plans for the block of flats were submitted to the Municipality in December 2022 and approved in July 2023. The George Herald reported receiving a statement from the developers saying they are fully committed and supportive of the investigations envisaged by the premier of the Western Cape Province to determine the cause of the tragedy and undertake to cooperate fully with all authorities.

“We mourn the loss of life, the injuries suffered, and the bereavement of the loved ones and families affected. We are deeply moved by the actions of the rescue teams and authorities.” the letter stated.

Work on the scene was exceptionally difficult. Time was of the essence, but dangers of further collapse were always at the forefront, so the use of heavy machinery on the concrete slabs and piles of rubble had to be limited. By the end of day three, rescue workers had retrieved 37 victims, eight of whom were deceased.

On day four (Friday), a very tough decision had to be made. The JOC announced that the multi-agency rescue squad would begin using demolition equipment to lift the concrete slabs that were obstructing access to the lower floors of the building site.

“The meticulous and skilled rescue response to date, which has allowed for the recovery of 40 of the 81 trapped workers, has had to proceed carefully to avoid further collapse and injury.” they said in a statement, “The stability of the site is a threat to the safety of emergency personnel who have focused their efforts for the past 96 hours on rescuing as many trapped patients as possible. The decision to switch to using heavy-duty demolition equipment is not taken lightly. The demolition company has created a safe path to drive on over the site, filling in voids that have been thoroughly checked for any entrapped victims. Rescue techniques continue to be applied meticulously and sensitively at each phase.”

On Saturday, the sombre mood of the exhausted crew turned to delight when, after they had surely all but given up hope, a noise was heard deep under the rubble. Contact was made with a living survivor, and whoops of joy echoed around the site, and indeed the country, when Gabriel Gumba was eventually brought to the surface, having been trapped for 118 hours without food and water. Amazingly, he had only suffered minor injuries.

The search operation continued and indeed will continue until the last victim is retrieved.

Whilst investigations into the cause of the building’s tragic implosion are already underway, the main emphasis to date has understandably been on rescue and recovery operations.

Our heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost loved ones during this tragedy, and a massive vote of thanks to emergency personnel and volunteers who have kept going for so long, giving their all in an extremely challenging rescue operation that must surely be heart-wrenching.

On the morning of Madiba Day, Thursday, 18 June 2019, Angeline ‘Anna’ Armoed wept. But at the time, these were tears of joy because the widowed grandmother had just received the best gift ever – the promise of a new house! After being on the waiting list for over twenty years, she and her family were to be given their very own home, compliments of Knysna Municipality and a private donor.
Now, five years later, her joy has long turned to misery – because this new house has never materialised. The promise, made official by a ‘Pledge of Commitment’ certificate presented to Mrs Armoed (with speeches, cheers and much pomp and ceremony) by municipal dignitaries wearing the ceremonial hard-hats for the ground-breaking ceremony, is yet to become a reality.
Nothing has been done.
On that Madiba Day The EDGE Community Newspaper and other media were there to record the moment, because an impoverished widow receiving a new 42-square-metre home would make a perfect uplifting story for the front page.
To date, that same piece of ground remains ‘unbroken’, and Mrs Armoed, now 61, is still living elsewhere. Her current home is a dilapidated two-roomed backyard shack, which she shares with six other occupants. To add insult to injury, this structure was badly flooded during the recent heavy rains.
In 2019, Annie Brinkhuis, who held the Human Settlements portfolio on the local Ward Committee, reported that Mrs Armoed had been a ‘backyard dweller’ since her husband died in 2002. She and her children had battled to make ends meet since then.
“Angeline was actually on the list to receive one of the first RDP houses in the late nineties,” Annie had told us, “But somehow her name got shifted off the list, and she lost out.”
Also in 2019, a spokesperson for Knysna Municipality reported that the family’s vulnerability had made them an ideal recipient of the housing opportunity ‘because the household was exposed to extreme poverty.’
However, it seems their extreme poverty was no longer an issue for the dignitaries or the municipality once the photo opportunity had been taken. Mrs Armoed and her family were left with nothing but the printed pledge, congratulating them on being the recipients of, as it turned out, a non-existent home.
When the rains of two weeks ago flooded her home, the widow’s continued plight caught the attention of Fregen Galant, a Smutsville Informal Settlement Forum member, who decided that it was time to push the matter again. He and Mrs Armoed went to the municipality, taking along the Pledge of Commitment (she has had it laminated for longevity!). They managed to speak to MMC (Member Mayoral Committee) for Infrastructure, Councillor Beauty Charlie.
Perhaps not being able to believe what she was hearing, the councillor contacted some of the ‘dignitaries’ who had been involved in the original handover. They confirmed (with at least some embarrassment, it is hoped) that Mrs Armoed’s tragic tale was indeed true.
According to Galant, the councillor then called the Manager of Integrated Human Settlements, Lindile Petuna, to ask what could be done. He suggested a ‘kit’ Wendy house could be set up for Mrs Armoed in the new informal area known as Lank Gewag, where her oldest son Randall currently lives.
“Mr Petuna made it sound like it was an easy thing for the Municipality to do,” he said, “And he also told us that once Anna is set up there, she could be connected up with electricity, as the Lank Gewag settlement has been electrified.”
But when we met with him over a week later, a frustrated Galant said nothing had happened yet, except for a lot more rain and flooding of Mrs Armoed’s home. Whilst he spoke to us, a very resigned and hopeless Mrs Armoed looked on in silence. Galant said they had contacted Beauty Charlie’s offices once again, but whilst the councillor took their calls, she could not provide any news for them as she had not been able to get hold of Petuna since the first meeting.
Contacted for comment, a Municipal Spokesperson said “It is correct that Mrs Armoed possesses a letter signed by a former Municipal Manager and Mayor, indicating a commitment to construct a house contingent upon sponsorship. However, the sponsorship has since been rescinded, placing the responsibility of construction on the Municipality.
“The construction of the house has been integrated into the annual rectification program, scheduled for realisation in the upcoming financial year commencing in July 2024.
“Regarding the request for materials made by community members, it’s important to note that current policy restricts the allocation of materials, and any implementation is subject to the availability of resources and requisite approvals.”
This newspaper looks forward to printing pictures of Mrs Armoed and her family in their new (albeit temporary) kit home, but no one is holding their breath.

Twenty members of the Fish Eagle Masters Swimming Club from the Garden Route participated in the 39th Masters Swimming Championship in Johannesburg from 13 to 16 March 2024. The pool events were held at St Stithians College in Randburg and the open water swim was held at Prime View Adventure and Leisure in Olifantsfontein.

FEMS performed exceptionally well this year, raking in a record number of 55 medals. Local Sedgefielders Judy Dixon, Neil McLellan, Cate Pietrobon and Lanie Farrelly contributed 10 medals to this amazing total. The high altitude made it a more challenging masters but the swimmers persevered and made the best of it. It was once again four days of fun, friendship, camaraderie and high team spirit.

Next years’ Masters will be held at Kings Park Pool in Durban from 12 March to 15 March. To all of you out there that always wanted to but never got around to it, now is the time. Put on your cozzie, start training and join us. Contact Judy Dixon on 072 390 6667.

Province issues directives warning Municipal Manager Sebola to Comply

(Picture: Environmental Law Enforcement Director of the Provincial Government, Achmad Bassier and Knysna Municipal Manager Ombali Sebola.)

All eyes will again be on the Knysna Municipality in the next few weeks, but now with a more hopeful outlook. This after council members unanimously approved the diagnostic report and support plan presented to them by the Western Cape Provincial Government at a Special Council Meeting held on Friday 1 March.

The assessment involved municipal officials and a multidisciplinary team of subject matter experts from the Western Cape Government, Provincial Treasury, and the National Department of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs (CoGTA).

But whilst it was frequently mentioned in the presentation that the much-needed assistance in the form of a detailed and financially supported plan for Knysna’s recovery (see Mayor’s report on page 3) was being given in the spirit of Section 154 of the Constitution (which states that National Government and provincial governments, by legislative and other measures, must support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and to perform their functions), two directives issued to the Municipal Manager Ombali Sebola on Thursday 29 February left no doubt that the Provincial Government means business, and that as Knysna’s top official he could face dire consequences for non-compliance.

Both directives were issued by Achmad Bassier, the Environmental Law Enforcement Director of the Provincial Government, in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, and both include the following points:-
6.4 In terms of section 49A(1)(g) of the NEMA failure to comply with a Directive is an offence. A person convicted of failing to comply with a Directive is liable to a fine not exceeding R10 million or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment .

6.7 The NEMA makes provision for the criminal prosecution of officials of an organ of state, such as national or provincial government departments, municipalities or public entities.

The first of these very pointed directives was issued to both Sebola and Randall Bower, the Municipal Waste Manager, due to the appalling state of the Waste Transfer Station in Knysna.
“Whilst the Department acknowledges the Knysna Municipality’s efforts to address the situation in terms of the KM’s Action Plan (dated 28 November 2023), the Knysna WTS remains in an appalling condition, resulting in numerous nuisances (i.e. visual, windblown litter, excessive foul odours, etc.) emanating from the WTS, thus impacting negatively on the health and well-being of the general public and business owners in the area,” the directive states, later adding “… the KM are causing significant pollution and/or degradation of the environment and have not taken reasonable measures to prevent pollution and/or degradation from occurring and continuing, in respect of the WTS.”

The directive points out that a site visit by Environmental Management Inspectors revealed that there was no access control, thus allowing unauthorised access to the WTS; several vagrants were still present and living in informal structures on the property, as well as actively involved in the reclaiming and sorting of waste; these vagrants are living in unhygienic conditions with no basic sanitation or ablution facilities, thus contributing to the pollution of the stormwater channel which flows into the adjacent Knysna Lagoon. Large volumes of uncovered waste have been dumped/stored outside the WTS resulting in nuisances such as windblown litter occurring on the adjoining properties, excessive foul odours, and the presence of vermin and flies.

The second directive referred to Knysna’s crumbling sewerage infrastructure and its effect on the Knysna Lagoon in particular.

After again acknowledging the Municipality’s efforts to address the situation in terms of the 18 December Action Plan, the directive states “The Knysna Estuary remains highly polluted from continuous overflows emanating from pipeline and manholes in the Hunters Home and Hornlee Residential area into the Bigai River, as well as the overflows from the conservancy tank at The Woods, Lake Brenton.”
Further, it leaves no doubt as to where the Director’s department felt the blame lies.
“… your Municipality is causing and has caused significant pollution of the environment and the Knysna Estuary and its respective aquatic and marine/coastal ecosystems by failing to take reasonable measures to prevent such pollution from continuing or recurring.

“The current state of pollution within the Bigai River and the Knysna Estuary, as well as the inadequate sewerage infrastructure and lack of maintenance at the Woods, Lake Brenton, is not only causing significant pollution of the environment and the Knysna Estuary and the associated aquatic and coastal environment, but may also impact negatively on the health and well-being of the public and the residents residing along Bigai River and the affected areas within the Knysna Estuary.”

Both of the Provincial Law Enforcement directives issued a comprehensive list of actions that need to be taken by the Knysna Municipality, under the leadership of the Municipal Manager, within strict time-frames should the recipients wish to avoid prosecution.

These actions will be closely monitored by the provincial authorities through regular site visits and compulsory updates / feedback meetings.

Knysna Council has received and approved the Support Plan compiled by the Western Cape Provincial Government (WCPG). The document is based on a Diagnostic Analysis and Diagnostic Assessment Report compiled by the Western Cape Department of Local Government.
Knysna Executive Mayor, Aubrey Tsengwa, explained the key objectives of the diagnostic assessment. “The assessment identifies areas that are functioning well, but also areas that require attention, correction and support,” he said. “It proposes solutions to address the root causes of each problem area and informs the Support Plan.”
The assessment involved municipal officials and a multi-disciplinary team of subject matter experts from the Department of Local Government (DLG), Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre, under the leadership of DLG and the National Department of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs (CoGTA). The Provincial Treasury also assessed the municipal finances and had a number of engagements with relevant municipal officials.
“This plan highlights priorities that need to be addressed across the various directorates within the municipality,” said Tsengwa. “While Council has adopted this plan, it must be noted that none of these are ‘quick fixes’, I am taking this opportunity to share the most notable recommendations with our residents. A lot of work, and cooperation between the municipality and various governmental departments must be done before any of these proposals can be put into place.”
Critical vacancies throughout the municipality must be filled as per the approved organisational structure. A full complement of qualified and capable staff members who adhere to service delivery principles will enable the organisation to deliver information and essential services throughout the various directorates to its various communities and help to re-establish community confidence in the municipality.
“All staff appointments, plans, projects, maintenance and development cost money,” said Tsengwa. “The draft plan suggests that the suggestions of the Development Bank of Southern Africa Revenue Enhancement Project be implemented, including a review of tariffs and General Valuation reconciliation, to generate revenue and enhance collection. A budget funding plan can assist in achieving a credible funded budget with cash-backed grants and liquidity ratios that meet the norms. An audit action plan can also assist in winning back our unqualified audit status, and a supply chain management assessment will identify ways in which this process can be streamlined and perform to the optimal fiscal benefit of the municipality and our ratepayers.”
Master plans for all infrastructure services should be updated and projects should be prioritised accordingly to determine streams of project funding. Recapacitating the Infrastructure Directorate will ensure the day-to-day operation of infrastructure, improve the response time to spillages and ensure that routine maintenance plans are followed. Additional water storage in areas where it is most needed should be considered.
“The plan suggests that a service level agreement with the Garden Route District Municipality be signed regarding a regional waste disposal facility, but Council has been advised of viable alternative options that it is also evaluating,” Tsengwa continued. “The WCPG’s assessment shows that our waste tariffs should be re-evaluated as they are well below the norm of our neighbouring municipalities. It has also been suggested that collection points are reviewed and monitored to ensure that customers, specifically businesses, are not taking advantage of the system by placing more bins and bags out for collection than they are paying for to be collected.”
The requisite training and/or development initiatives to assist councillors in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities should be determined and implemented. This includes their roles and responsibilities in terms of regulating administrative decisions. Comprehensive training on the Code of Conduct for Councillors should be the norm, along with strict enforcement of the code by the Speaker.
Proper and effective legal guidance will ensure adherence to all legal prescripts and compliance requirements, and the municipality has the opportunity to submit a list of policies that it requires assistance with reviewing. A workshop with councillors and municipal officials on anti-corruption, fraud and ethics should be organised with collaboration from CoGTA, the Specialist Investigating Unit, Provincial Treasury and National Treasury.
In terms of facilitating access to adequate housing, effective land use planning compliance management and law enforcement systems must be implemented. It is suggested that Council’s delegation register and categorisation of applications is reviewed. Adequate land use planning processes should be instituted and zoning scheme by-laws and planning by-laws could be amended and implemented while land use planning policies and guidelines should be developed and implemented. The process of updating the Municipal Spatial Development Framework has already commenced, and the municipality invites local businesses, rate payers’ organisations, the private sector and greater public to keep an eye on the press and its social media platforms for upcoming community participation engagements.
The plan also makes suggestions regarding supporting and strengthening corporate governance of information communication technology.
“Considering the challenges we face as an organisation and a community, we welcome the suggestions made and guidance delivered in the WCPG’s assessment and plan,” said Tsengwa. “As a living and ever-evolving document, the Report and Support Plan will be further discussed and finalised between Knysna Municipality, CoGTA and the Western Cape Provincial Government, fusing inputs and suggestions from Provincial and National Government with those of the municipality into one final document. Regular meetings will be held to monitor progress and ensure accountability.”
“We appreciate the support of these governmental departments,” Tsengwa concluded. “We are committed to working with them – and our residents – to cure the ills that are affecting the positive development of the greater Knysna area. We are working towards a better Knysna for all our residents and look forward to the cooperation of our community in achieving an inclusive, innovated, inspired Knysna.”

It seems that Carte Blanche’s much-publicised exposé entitled Knysna’s Sad Collapse, which aired on DStv Sunday, 18 Feb, has been the final straw for many residents. Perhaps it takes having a surprise visitor checking out your house to realise how badly things are falling apart.

The Knysna segment of the popular investigative journalism program certainly was a no-holds-barred report on Knysna’s dirty laundry. After leading with sound bytes from Western Cape Premier Alan Winde’s State of the Nation Debate speech, which described a decomposing body found in a Knysna Municipal Water reservoir, the Carte Blanche camera crew, along with journalist Erin Bates, took thousands of viewers through the town’s worst issues.

“Knysna’s decay is undeniable,” she reported, “Visible signs of infrastructure collapse are everywhere.” As the cameras captured a tragic tapestry of the town, including mountains of waste in the CBD, communities left without water in Hornlee, sewage spills into streams running into the lagoon and desperate residents trying their utmost to survive despite these challenges, the journalist highlighted the fact that not only are Knysna’s people suffering, but also the environment – particularly the unique ecosystem of the estuary.

“This story is as much about politics and the failure of local government as it is about the survival of the Knysna seahorse,” she said, later suggesting that in its current state, Knysna was a ticking time bomb for both.
Looking for answers, she did not find them in her brief interview with Executive Mayor Aubrey Tsengwa. He described the challenges as ‘small’ and insisted that Knysna Municipality may have cash-flow problems but was certainly not bankrupt.

Bates had a more meaningful discussion with long-time Knysna businessman John Metelerkamp, who had also been her ‘guide’ through part of the tour. He told her the town’s infrastructure had not kept pace with the exploding population numbers. He did not believe the blame lay entirely at the feet of the current coalition leadership but goes back years. “It doesn’t matter who rules the council,” he said. “Their focus has been on politics, not on infrastructure, not on running the town.” Metelerkamp also told her that, in his view, getting answers from the municipality had become nigh on impossible.

But the chat was not all negative. The businessman said he believed that there is a groundswell amongst Knysna locals to get involved in saving the town.

As the heart-wrenching 20-minute documentary on the ‘2023 Dorpie of the Year’ came to a close, Bates aimed a pointed question at members of the current Knysna Council.
“Will the politicians prioritise self-interest, or will they get down to business and save the jewel of the Garden Route? In the meantime, it’s the ordinary citizens who will pay the price for years of incompetent management of this municipality. Their once pristine environment is at the mercy of those paid to protect it.”

Whilst many organisations and indeed individuals have spent huge sums of money, time and energy over the last few years trying to keep the Greater Knysna Municipality from becoming one of those South African towns, it seems Sunday night’s Carte Blanche may have provided a catalyst for much more community involvement.

One particular WhatsApp group, set up last year under the name ‘Objections Knysna Rates’, has exploded in numbers in the last few days. Pierre van Biljon, now one of the group admins, told us he posted a message along the lines of ‘I’ve had enough’ on the group on Saturday night after discovering the shocking state of the water. By Sunday morning, the number of members in the group was up to 300. By Sunday night, so many people had joined it that it had exceeded the maximum number of members allowed (1024), and a sister group had to be launched.

All members were decrying the state of Knysna, and most wanted to know what they could do to help put it right. It soon became evident that a sense of order and an action plan was needed, and Pierre stepped up to the plate to get the ball rolling. “I don’t believe Knysna’s infrastructure is below the maintenance line,” he told us on a call, ‘But it is close. And to rebuild it would be exceptionally hard and way too expensive.”

Pierre spent most of Monday in his unexpected leadership position seeking advice and formulating suggested action options, which he was able to share in detail with group members later that afternoon.

He suggested that the seemingly popular idea of withholding payment of rates was not an option worth considering as a lengthy court battle may well fail and would leave residents with substantial legal costs to pay on top of any withheld rates.

A second option would be for the business/private sector to take on the municipality’s role – in other words, do the maintenance and repairs themselves. This would bring the fastest results but be exceptionally expensive.

A third option would be a ‘special ratepayer’s vote’: This would entail adding an ad-hoc rate to residents’ monthly accounts that would be specifically dedicated (with independent monitoring) to achieving specific goals, such as repairing sewer and water lines. This option, however, can only be decided and implemented with a majority vote of the representative ratepayers within the municipal region, which would no doubt present a serious challenge.

But Pierre is quick to point out that these are only suggestions and that the first and most crucial step would be to hold a public meeting to elect a steering committee and map out an action plan. “It’s as simple as this,” he says, “Not one of us has all the answers, but if we pool our ideas and resources and work together as a team, great things can happen.”

If you would like to become part of this movement, please email

(See page 3 of ‘Latest issue’ for a statement from the offices of Knysna’s Executive Mayor Aubrey Tsengwa .)

Tragedy struck on Sunday 4 February when three young adults – two women and one man – drowned in the Sedgefield Lagoon. Whilst one of the victims was resuscitated and rushed to hospital, she passed away later that night. The other two were sadly already deceased when their bodies were recovered from the water in the early evening.

The names of the deceased have not yet been released, though it has been confirmed all three were locals and that the two ladies were sisters.

The following information was obtained from the report filed by Mike Vonk, the NSRI Wilderness Station Commander.

At 12h30, NSRI Wilderness, ER24 Ambulance Services, NSRI rescue swimmers, an off-duty SA National Parks Ranger, the SA Police Services, WPDS (Water Policing and Diving Services) and Knysna Fire and Rescue Services responded to reports of a drowning in progress in Sedgefield Lagoon

Eyewitnesses had reportedly observed the three victims spending time together in the lagoon a while earlier. When the seemingly lifeless body of one of the females was seen floating in the water, two good Samaritans rushed in to carry her to the bank. Whilst CPR was initiated by SANParks Honorary Ranger Alida Viljoen who happened to be on the scene, the alarm was raised and emergency services summoned.
On arrival, NSRI medics took over CPR efforts, further assisted by an off-duty ER24 paramedic. Hopes were raised when the patient showed signs of life and, when she was reasonably stable though still in a critical condition, she was transported to hospital by ER24 ambulance. There, extensive efforts by medical staff continued.

At that stage the whereabouts of the other two persons remained unknown – there were no leads as to whether they had left the water or not, or even if they were missing. NSRI launched the sea rescue craft Lavinia to begin a search, which, assisted by police divers and other emergency services, included the lagoon and surrounding land. No sign of the two companions was found at that time.
At 18h02 on the same day NSRI Wilderness was alerted that a second body had been discovered floating in the lagoon, near to where the lady had been recovered earlier. NSRI Wilderness, SAPS, a SANParks Ranger, Water Policing and Dive Services, Knysna Fire and Rescue Services, WC Government Health Forensic Pathology Service and WC Government Health EMS were all alerted and responded to the scene.

The body of the adult female was recovered, but sadly declared deceased by the EMS paramedic. Police divers initiated a further search in the immediate area, eventually locating and recovering the body of the adult male beneath the surface of the lagoon.
The bodies of the two deceased were taken into the care of Government Health Forensic Pathology Services and SAPS opened an inquest docket.

The first casualty remained in intensive care in a critical condition until later that night when all efforts to save her life by doctors and nurses were exhausted and she was sadly also declared deceased.
Condolences are conveyed to the family and friends of the three deceased.