Picture by Andre Victor: A runaway fire swept through Beverley Hills in Smutsville last Wednesday, destroying homes and possessions but fortunately not taking any lives.

“There’s nothing as powerful as relationships, and the reason Sedgefield has been able to rise from the dreadful disaster of last week is the authentic relationships we have across our communities.”
These were the words of Ward 1 Councillor Levael Davis, as he and so many others dealt with the aftermath of the devastating fire that hit Smutsville on Wednesday, 30 August 2023.
It has been officially confirmed that 28 informal homes, four ‘backyard addition’ homes, and two formal (brick and mortar) homes were destroyed when the fire, fanned by the afternoon’s warm berg wind, raged through Beverley Hills. Its trail of destruction left 87 men, women and children homeless and, in most cases, with nothing to their names but the clothes on their backs.
Reportedly, the fire started when a stove on which youngsters were cooking their lunch somehow malfunctioned. Without running water to immediately douse the flames, there was nothing to stop the resultant fire from spreading at a rapid rate, and in no time, it was simply out of control.

At 14:45, the Sedgefield Fire Department received the first emergency call, and four firefighting vehicles were swiftly dispatched. On arrival, it was evident that the crew had no small battle on their hands. The wind, combined with the proximity of the surrounding homes, ensured the odds were stacked against all efforts to extinguish it.
As the flames leapt from structure to structure, a potentially catastrophic disaster was looming, and the fire departments from Knysna, George and the Garden Route District Municipality were quickly summoned to assist. Further vehicles were dispatched to the scene, and the fight against the inferno continued.
At one stage, the berg wind blowing from the northeast pushed the raging fire towards Smutsville School and several formal homes bordering its perimeter fence. One of the COP members assisting on the scene rushed off to fetch bolt cutters to open the school’s back gate and give the fire team a better position to tackle the roaring blaze.
Then, mercifully, the wind direction switched, turning the flames back on their path. This was a game-changer for the exhausted firefighters who could finally take control.
By 17:30, the blaze was all but out. As the firefighters sifted through the rubble to extinguish remnant flames, the community could breathe a collective sigh of relief that nobody had perished or even suffered serious injury. Disaster had indeed struck, but many agree it could have been much worse.
Nevertheless, the damage to personal property was huge, and the community affected could only stand in shock as the smoke cleared to reveal little but heaps of ash, buckled metal and charred wood.
Meanwhile, members of COP, senior SAPS members, Mario Ferreira of Gift of the Givers, and Councillor Davis got together at the scene and formed an informal ‘disaster reaction team’ which quickly went to action. It wasn’t long before the Sedgefield network was buzzing with requests for the immediate necessities to assist the many fire victims.
The Smutsville Community Hall was opened, and local organisations and individuals dropped everything to rise to the challenge.
“It was amazing how wonderfully the community reacted,” said the councillor, overwhelmed by the response from residents of Wards 1 and 2. “From cooking meals to animal rescue to bringing in bags of bedding and clothing and even offering counselling. So many people wanted to help wherever they could. Sedgefield people certainly stand together when they face a disaster.”
Mario Ferreira of Gift of the Givers, who stepped in right at the beginning to coordinate efforts regarding the provision of food and clothing, concurs with Davis.
“Within two hours of the fire, every affected person had two blankets and a mattress to sleep on. An hour later, they all had a hot meal prepared by Sedgefield Slow Town Meals kitchen staff and the members of Sedgefield Lions,” he said, “We congratulate and thank the community of Sedgefield and surrounds for who you are and for all the assistance given. Sedgefield residents and property owners came forward to assist in restoring the dignity of those in need. To organisations such as SAM, COP, Sedgefield Neighbourhood Watch, Masitandane, Sedgefield Lions, our local churches, SAPS, Sedgefield Fire Brigade, Eden Disaster Management, Eden Fire Services, Knysna Disaster Management, local kitchens, businesses, Sedgefield Local Community Volunteers, the Ward 1 Councillor, and the many anonymous donors – we say thank you so very much for making such a huge difference.”
The Municipal Housing Department also played its part. Clean-up operations on the fire site began at 8:00 sharp the next morning, and soon after, the municipal team began building corrugated iron structures to replace the homes lost in the fire. tenant time of going to press, 13 of the thirty were built, and the work continues.
It has been a week since the fire, and Councillor Davis is happy to report that donations are still coming in, as much is still needed. Whilst clothing, toiletries and foodstuffs may be dropped at the Community Hall (non-perishable is best as this can be distributed via food parcels), there will be a call for larger goods (basic furniture, appliances, etc.) as and when the fire victims start moving into their replacement homes.
“We will keep people aware of specific needs over the various community WhatsApp groups,” he said.

Picture by Michael Hilton Photography:- Smutsville residents took to the streets asking why their housing projects have been sidelined. 

In the early hours of Monday 21 August, residents of Smutsville, Sedgefield, once again launched protest action against the Knysna Municipality. Whilst the sound of sirens, the crack of rifles firing rubber bullets and the deafening echoes of stun grenades caught many unawares, it had surely been only a matter of time before the protest happened, as the community at large claim they have been all but sidelined by Knysna’s Council.

Their biggest complaint is that the tens of millions of Rands in funding for housing projects in Ward 1 that were recorded on the municipal budget for the past two years do not appear on this year’s budget. This would seemingly render the hard work and input of numerous parties following the protests of June 2018 and March 2019 null and void. Further, the electrification program giving power to those living in informal structures has come to a grinding halt in Smutsville.
Though crowds had reportedly started gathering from 3.30 am on Monday morning, it was about 5.00 am when several fires were lit on Oestervanger Street – blocking the only vehicle access to Smutsville. The general message was that no one would be going to work that day, until the community had answers. SAPS members as well as members of local volunteer security organisations arrived to monitor the activity but didn’t engage. A while later, three armoured vehicles from the Public Order Police arrived on the scene, bringing in numbers of armed personnel in their riot combat gear.

The demonstrators gathered in their hundreds to stand and face the uniformed law enforcers. They called for Knysna Executive Mayor Aubrey Tsengwa to come and hear their demands. He arrived soon after 10.00 am and, along with his police escort, was quickly surrounded by the crowd. Individuals shouted questions and accusations at him, but without any form of sound equipment, it was not possible for the mayor to be heard above the clamour of angry voices. When he was finally handed a loud hailer he assured those present that the Smutsville housing projects had not been forgotten, stating “There is money for Smutsville!” a number of times. The mayor was asked to return to present the community with answers by Wednesday.

“We want a timeframe from him for our housing,” demanded one incensed lady, “And we want it on paper!”

Whilst it was comparatively peaceful as protests go – the presence of the Public Order Police no doubt making a difference – there was no mistaking the anger brewing among the residents as they watched Mayor Tsengwa depart.

Ward 1 Councillor Levael Davis, who was standing with his constituents, agreed that their concerns were valid. We asked for a statement which he duly sent later in the day.

“Our community has handed the mayor a memorandum of requests concerning a number of very important items. I have on numerous occasions, been vocal in the Council and in the media regarding two of these – housing and electrification,” he said.
“Sedgefield received very little from this year’s approved budget allocation. This is concerning because, over the last three years, much work has been done in this regard. In the 2022/23 financial year, provincial grant amounts of +R12 Million and +R26 Million were approved in the final MTREF budget for the outer years of 2023/24 and 2024/25, respectively (Appendix 3).
“This money is not reflected in this year’s budget which means that either the business plan has been changed in favour of other areas or projects, or the money removed due lack of project progress, slow, or non-spending.
“Having no provincial grant allocation captured in the final budget means that there is simply no money committed for housing this year. This question needs to be addressed honestly by the mayor.
“On the question of electricity, I have consistently bemoaned the fact that Smutsville has received no INEP (Integrated National Electrification Program) funding for this year, even though we applied like every other Ward. Other Wards have received millions again, but nothing for Smutsville. These are the questions I think our community needs answers for.”

Asked for feedback, Mike Hofhuis of COP reported that whilst the day of the protest was predominantly peaceful, it seemed that certain juveniles were determined that it should not remain so.

“By late afternoon, when it seemed that all was said and done, POPS stood down, leaving COP members to monitor the situation from a distance,” he explained, “Within 10 minutes of the departure of the large POP personnel vehicles, juveniles had erected three barricades about 15m apart along Oestervanger Street, and a fire was started on the same road, adjacent to USave.”
He said Knysna’s Crime Prevention Unit was quickly called in and as soon as they arrived the youngsters fled in every direction.
“When the SAPS members gave chase, the juveniles began throwing stones, and a running battle continued until about 9 pm when the youngsters went home. A fire was started at the top of the stairs over the dune, but the fire department who had been on standby were able to extinguish it quickly,” he reported.
COP also kept the community at large informed of the protest through the various safety and security WhatsApp groups, letting residents know of any potential danger spots.
By Tuesday morning it seemed everything had returned to normal, and it was still so at time of going to press. No confirmation of a date for the Executive Mayor’s return has been received as yet.

(Picture: Sedgefield Under 9 boys battle it out with their rivals from Denneoord School. Taken by Isabel Adam)
If you were wondering why most of the roads in the village were packed with cars last Saturday, it was Laerskool Sedgefield Primary hosting its 21st Arrie Nel Hockey Day. The school once again stepped up to the plate and ensured that the enthusiastic players and parents had a memorable time on and around the fields.
To cater for 1500 hockey players and 3000 spectators takes teamwork and the school would like to thank all who were involved in making the day such a huge success.  A special thank you to Arrie Nel Pharmacy for their contribution and loyal support of the school through the years. LSP  learners and personnel wish to continue with this tradition and look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2024
Congratulations to the 2023 trophy winners.
 u/8    Boys: George Suid  (tie) George Voorbereiding
          Girls: Denneoord A
u/9     Boys: Durbanville (tie) A Hartenbos
          Girls: Durbanville A (tie) Durbanville B
u/10   Boys:  Milkwood A (tie) Milkwood B
          Girls: Park Outeniqua A
u/11   Boys: Holy Cross
          Girls: Outeniqua A
u/12   Boys: Milkwood A
          Girls: Outeniqua A

(PICTURE: Sedgefield’s Atlantic Spurs were the ecstatic winners of the Knysna Oyster Festival Netball Tournament.)

The last weekend of the Knysna Oyster Festival saw a triple whammy for Sedgefield, with three big sporting tournament trophies coming this way. Congratulations to the ladies from Atlantic Spurs (pictured top), the gents from Smuts United and the lads from Young Boys FC (see story on back page) for their respective victories in the Netball and Soccer competitions.

On Friday, 7 July and Saturday, 8 July, the Atlantic Spurs Netball squad took on other teams from the Greater Knysna area in the Knysna Oyster Festival Tournament. Playing what has been described as ‘beautiful netball’, they won all their matches in the group stages to go through to the semi-finals. Then a convincing 20-7 win against the Sky Blue squad saw them making the finals, where they played a brilliant match against the Jaguars from Knysna. An exciting game resulted in the final score of 12-6 in their favour, and the gold medals and trophy were theirs. Well done, ladies!

The following day, Sunday, 9 July, saw our talented local soccer champs from Smuts United defending the Oyster Cup in a final against FC United at Loerie Park in Knysna. Having brought the cup home in the 2022 tournament, the lads were no longer the underdogs, and everything was at stake to prove they were still champion material.

The rain made the going difficult for both teams but certainly didn’t keep their fans from filling the stands. It goes without saying that the Sedgefield team made their supporters’ journey worthwhile.

The one and only goal of the match came in the middle of the 2nd half; this, after some brilliant ball play from the Smuts team’s front pair gave Ashley Melite the opportunity to take a crack at the net. And score he did!
The home team retaliated swiftly, attacking with force in an attempt to find the equalizer. However, outstanding work by the Smuts United defense, in particular, goalkeeper Ashwell van Rooyen (who had earlier promised that no ball would pass his ‘golden gloves’ that day) kept the gates of the Sedgefielders goal mouth firmly locked against a barrage of opposition shots.

Smuts United’s captain of the day was Corne Melite, who was more than happy with his team’s performance and the invaluable work of those behind the scenes. He said the players could focus on coach Peter Hardnick’s simple instruction:- KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE – WE ARE IN IT TO WIN IT.

“We would like to say special thanks to all Sedgefield fans who drove through to offer their support,” says Smuts assistant coach Gavin Campher, “The stadium was packed!”

“From the team side, we would like to thank the coaches, management and supporters for pushing us to the limit’’ added Captain Corne.

Picture: Normally only seen in the distance, this still from Ryan’s video footage brings us that much closer to the last Knysna Elephant.

There was a buzz on the news and social media wires last week when a conservationist/ filmmaker Ryan Davy announced his emotional ‘meeting’ with the lone Knysna Elephant – this after months and months of tracking her through the dense indigenous forest.
We asked Ryan to share details of his quest to find Knysna’s elusive old lady, and he kindly penned the article below. 

At first glance, the Garden Route wilderness can look extremely intimidating. A veil of dense forest that stretches for hundreds of kilometres in every direction. The idea that one elephant roams these vast woodlands is an enigma on its own, and the idea that I was to find her was considered simply near impossible by those who heard of my ambitious quest.

What if I discover a carcass, or worse, a half-living creature, unable to move after being swallowed by a gorge? These steep slopes drop off without warning and disappear into black water stained by roots that dig deep into the forest bed, holding it firmly in the ground like one giant underground net. Other thoughts crossed my racing brain, such as, is she aggressive? Is she lonely? Where to even begin my search?

I wasn’t going to try and find her immediately, I was going to earn it, and by doing that, I would need to learn more about her and tap into her stream of energy as she wanders lonesome through the wilderness.

I don’t rely on hearsay; I rely on the ground, which speaks an encyclopaedia of facts. So that’s where I was looking, the tracks, the scat, the water sources, the vegetation and, of course, the weather. If you can tap into the environment emotionally and feel its stream of energy, then you can pretty easily imagine what you would do if you were an elephant. Why would she go to a particular area? Why would she drink from here and not from there? Why would she eat this and not that? These questions continuously ran through my brain, especially at night in that deathly silent forest.

After 12 weeks, I got a break. By tracking her dung and footprints, broken branches and mud pools, I could finally isolate her territory, allowing me to move in closer using a tracker’s technique of walking in circles after identifying a footprint or scat. In theory, this should allow me to determine which direction she moved to next based on the last point identified. However, it doesn’t always work.

Following tracks is extremely challenging in that thick undergrowth. The only real way to track her was from dung droppings and broken branches. An elephant usually drops dung quite frequently; however, when it’s in the thick vegetation, 30m one way or the other could be the difference between getting lost or losing her trail altogether.

And I had to go quietly –  carefully clearing the area before placing each foot so that I didn’t break any pieces of foliage lying on the ground that might set off a ‘bush alarm’, basically animals and birds that will warn others of impending danger. Equally, every branch had to be gently pushed aside – some riddled with thorns – to clear a path for the rest of my body and backpack to pass through. Being quiet in the forest is the only way to track an elephant.

I was completely alone the entire time. I couldn’t cook anything because the smell of food might push her further away. I couldn’t eat crunchy food because my chewing might prevent me from hearing that subtle sound which could lead me closer to her. Such isolation might sound wonderful for one or two days, but after several cold and wet weeks, I began to get an insight into how she spends each day. Surely no sentient living creature should have to endure a lifetime of such solitude? That didn’t make sense to me, so the mission became more complex and the pressure to locate her more involved.

Finding her became an obsession for me. If speculation that she is in her forties is true, she would know the forest intimately, sensing every time something enters her domain as it would change the frequency of the forest. I was able to tap into that frequency, and one day, I stepped into her domain.  I could feel she was nearby, and I’m sure she could feel the same. It became a waiting game, who would make the first move?

It is a distinct sound when an elephant breaks a branch or moves through the forest, especially one that is moving discreetly. My soul shivered from excitement, and I immediately knew I had found her. I didn’t know how she would react to an intrusion, but I assumed she would run. I didn’t want her to hurt herself in the process, so it was a case of following the sounds for a few days until I would intercept her movements through a clearing, and that’s when it happened. I was shaking to the core, my heart pounding volumes of blood in a single heartbeat, to the point that I could not keep the camera still. I was so excited to finally make visual contact with the most elusive elephant in Africa. The moment she penetrated the thick vegetation, my camera was rolling. She popped her head out like a duck from an eggshell. She waited as if she knew something was amiss but couldn’t pin it. I manoeuvred slowly behind a tree with the camera slightly protruding from its barked edge, only enough to capture the moment. She punched out of the forest like a dragon from its lair, and there she stood, in all her glory. She was smaller than I had imagined but in good health. She stood quietly for a few minutes, knowing very well that her senses were telling her something was close by, but it was not threatening. It was one of the most amazing moments of my environmental vacation. Two sentient beings metres from each other, in complete harmony, unable to communicate simply because of a divided language but one that we equally understood. Two loners searching for something, and whatever it was, remained our secret. After a short moment, she slipped into the thickets as if a window into another realm had opened for a few moments and then closed again. She was gone. This left me with the understanding that I can honestly say with an open heart was a feeling of pure sadness. It was like she had left the window open just enough for me to see inside her soul, and the loneliness I felt there was haunting. It has fuelled me even more to find her what she needs – a family.

Of course, tourism relies on the fact that the solitary elephant is a big question mark. The mystery is appealing, but we must stop playing this game now because there is a more serious issue. Yes, there is an elephant in the forest, and yes, it is alone, and yes, we must fix it because that is not only unethical but also cruel. It is a social creature that relies on the dynamics of a social structure to survive in a stable ecosystem.

The biggest mistake we can make in life is to assume someone else is assigned the task for which we are all responsible. Sadly I have had zero response from any of the relevant authorities.

I urge the community to reach out and demand an answer from your authoritative environmental organisation. It is your world, too; you live in it; it’s as much your right as it is hers, and what right does anyone have to claim ownership of such an incredibly magnificent species? What right do we have to remain silent when there is a fellow sentient in jeopardy because of what other humans have done? We have interfered. We have deprived this living creature of its right to be what it is designed to be, and now because of us, it lives alone, and nothing is more depleting to the soul than to live in isolation, no matter how beautiful your surroundings may be.

The very creature God has designed to fulfil a purpose in this beautiful, magnificent, once thriving ecosystem is now completely unbalanced because of the lack of integrity and passion behind those who have been granted the responsibility of looking after her well-being. Shame on us. If we do not take the necessary steps, we have all failed. Right now, as you read this, there is an incredibly complex and emotionally dynamic creature living out her days all alone in that deep silent dark forest.

If I were her, I’d prefer not to exist. But we are not elephants; we are humans, which puts us in a position to help, so let’s help!

Ryan has worked in the conservation realm for over three decades, starting his vocation in an anti-poaching unit at the age of 17 in Weenen, Kwazulu Natal. He now manages a herd of 23 elephants in Zululand in a 4000-hectare conservancy known as Bonamanzi Game Reserve. He has been researching the dynamics of sentient creatures for the last few years, specifically elephants and has travelled far and wide in search of the various subspecies throughout Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and Angola.

Local residents are seemingly up in arms at the alleged bad treatment of a young man by traffic police on the morning of Saturday, 3 June. This after he was arrested and incarcerated for what appears to be a standard feature on his vehicle.
Joshua de Vos (26) says it was 07:52, and he and his girlfriend Megan Oosthuizen were just 500 metres away from Sedge Links Golf Course, heading towards his home in Wilderness when an unmarked GTI Traffic Police vehicle came up behind him and turned on its blue flashing lights. He says he pulled over, the unmarked vehicle stopped behind, and an officer got out.

“Approaching my window, the man asked me for my licence, then instructed me to get out of the vehicle, Joshua said, “As we walked around my bakkie – a Nissan NP 200 – the officer pointed to the LED daytime running lights on the front, saying they were illegal.”
Joshua told us he tried to explain that such lights are standard on the Nissan NP200, but the officer would have none of it and went to his vehicle to retrieve the fine print-out machine.
“Even once I had offered proof, I was informed that I was still getting fined,” Joshua said, adding that he became increasingly frustrated, especially when he noticed there were no longer just two officers on the scene as another five or so had arrived. He began recording the conversation and asked the officer if they could go to the nearest police station, but said the answer he received was simply, “If you move your vehicle, we will arrest you.”

“Still holding my licence, the officer asked me for my name and occupation, which I gave him,” Joshua explained “He then asked for my phone number – which I told him I didn’t know as I haven’t memorised it. After asking the same question again and receiving the same answer, the officer leaned into the car and told Megan that he was going to arrest me if I didn’t answer the question correctly the third time.” Joshua says he once again told the officer he did not know his cell number, and the officer placed him under arrest and read him his rights.
“By this time, there were several officers standing around my vehicle,” the young man told us, “It was as if there was some huge situation going on.”

He described how he was then handcuffed behind his back and put into a SAPS vehicle. They followed a female officer driving Joshua’s bakkie to his house.
“She then climbed into the police vehicle with us, and the male officer drove at crazy high speeds to the George Police Station,” Joshua told us, claiming the man had flaunted the rules of the road the entire way – going over 130kph, ignoring stop streets and red traffic lights, and crossing over white lines.
“I had been arrested for standard LED lights,” he observed. “There was surely no need for this policeman to put my life in danger!”

Once in the station, the young Wilderness man was treated, he believes, scornfully by most of the staff on duty. He says he heard one member say, “Ons kap om vir DUI!” (“We’ll get him for Driving Under the Influence!”), but that when he was breathalysed, the reading was 0.0.
Seeing that he was the only ‘perpetrator’ in handcuffs, Joshua said he eventually persuaded the officers to remove them and then, after also removing his laces and anything else he might use as string, the members on duty locked him in a holding cell.
He said that when he asked how long he would be there, his heart dropped when one officer replied, “I don’t want to get your hopes up, but your court case is on Monday – perhaps after that.”

He told us that in the cell, there were two other ‘inmates’ and, convinced that they had likely been charged with something more serious than he had, Joshua says he lay down on a mat close to the shower and away from them, thinking how miserable an entire weekend in the holding cell was going to be.
“Thank goodness, five hours later, my attorney arrived and managed to get me released,” he told us.

On Monday, 5 June, both cases against him – ‘Hindering an officer to fulfil his duties’ (later changed to Resisting arrest) and ‘Failing to furnish information to an officer’, were thrown out of court, but Joshua doesn’t feel it would be morally acceptable for the story to end there.
“I really feel for someone who might not be able to afford legal help,” he reasons “Faced with the same situation, they would be in for a nightmare weekend without having done anything wrong.”

Hence, the young man is planning on taking action to try and prevent this from happening to others in the future and is asking anyone in the area who has had a similar experience to contact him, sending details via email to joshuadevos77@gmail.com.
Recovering from his ordeal, Joshua is overwhelmed with gratitude to his girlfriend, who witnessed the whole story as it unfolded, and his mother, who moved mountains to get his attorney to the police station timeously.

Having received this information, The EDGE forwarded the allegations to SAPS for comment, and Media Liaison Officer Sergeant Chris Spies sent the following response.“Information available indicates that a 25-year-old man was taken into custody for a traffic-related offense, following an incident along the N2 near Swartvlei on 03 June 2023 at about 08:00 by Provincial Traffic officials. He was expected to make his first court appearance on 05 June 2023, but the matter was not enrolled.”

Picture by El Rorke Photography

by Nic Brummer

Sedgefield Striders hosted the 24th Tortoise Tuff on Saturday, 10 June 2023, and a beautiful event was matched by beautiful weather. A change of venue saw the popular race start and finish at the Sedgefield Lions’ clubhouse, and all seemed to enjoy the new venue and route.
Just over 200 runners and walkers completed the 10km race, and some 50 fun runners enjoyed the 3km; a very pleasing turnout for the organisers and sponsors of the event. Sedgefield’s two Ward Councillors attended to wish participants well, and the community stepped up to assist the club in marshalling the course. Sedgefield Lions ensured the athletes were well-fed and watered once they had finished the run. The organisers thank the community for their support and contribution towards the event’s success.
So many athletes – local and those hailing from far and wide – expressed delight that the Tortoise Tuff had returned after a two-year break due to the pandemic. The organisers took the opportunity to assure them that whilst this year there had been only the two distances on offer, next year’s 25th edition of The Tuff will include the famously tough 30km course plus the stunning 22km trail run through the Goukamma Reserve.
Despite this year’s ‘Tortoise Tuff Lite’, the local club was blessed with many generous sponsors, including Sedgefield Pick ‘n Pay, Engen & Wimpy, HEMS Active, Knysna Municipality and Igmis Express. They clearly share a common value – service to the community.
The sponsors’(see list on page 11) generosity resulted in no less than 26 spot prizes, including three R2000 shoe vouchers and a R6000 gym membership.
The overall winner of the 10km race was Lloyd Bosman (Nedbank), who finished the run in 31m43s, only 11 seconds ahead of second place Selwyn Matthews, also of Nedbank. Local gym instructor Bonga Nkqintiza came in third (35m21s).
In the Ladies’ race, Nikki Walter of Knysna Marathon Club crossed the finish line in 42m24s, with Nedbank Runner Annatjie Botes second in 48m35s and Johanna Behr (also Nedbank) just 34 seconds behind her.
For full results of all categories please visit the website www.sedgefieldstriders.co.za.

(Picture:- Knysna’s Executive Mayor Aubrey Tsengwa may have some convincing to do on Wednesday 31 May)

The barrage of public objections to the 2023 – 2024 Municipal Budget sent to the authorities by the 19 May deadline has certainly made a difference – but residents will have to wait until this afternoon (31 May) to know if any changes are going to be substantial enough. The council will debate the Knysna Municipality’s Final 2023-2024 Medium Term Framework Budget report at 11:00 in the Council Chambers.
There is little doubt that this will result in hours of heated discussion.
In the Councillors’ Workshop held on Thursday, 25 May, Executive Mayor Aubrey Tsengwa reportedly opened with the following comments:“We have taken the budget to all 11 Wards. What transpired out of the process is serious outcries in terms of the rates increases in almost all Wards, and we have received an influx of comments from the public. We will draft a consolidated response to the Public Participation written submissions.
“We have dealt with some of the comments, and we, the Government, have listened to the people by recommending that the overall increase in property rates be reduced from 33% down to 17% to meet people halfway and the 18.65% increase in electricity we have considered reducing to 15%.”
He added a caution, however. “These amendments, as a result of the outcry and the Government meeting the people halfway, will result in a deficit of R59 million.”
The Acting Chief Financial Officer, Londiwe Sotshede, concurred, stating that“The implementation of the new GENERAL Valuation Roll has caused a big outcry from customers whose properties have increased in value by more than 100% and Provincial Treasury has recommended a reduction in the rate in the Rand as per regulations, together with an adjustment downwards in the electricity tariff. This reduction has resulted in a decrease in the overall property rates revenue by R39 million and electricity revenue by R16.7 million. It is now proposed that the exclusion threshold be amended and will now remain as per last year at R50 000. The tariff for residential properties will be reduced by 10%, and the tariff for business properties will be reduced by 9%”.
Ward 9 Councillor Sharon Sabbagh, who has been at the forefront of the fight to have the budget drastically changed and submitted an objection petition with over 4500 signatures objecting to the tabled document, is convinced that the amendments proposed are nowhere near enough.
“My view is that this is NOT acceptable; however, I await the Amended Budget & IDP before commenting further,” she said. “It’s important that we save Knysna from this illegal budget. Otherwise, we will end up with a ghost town where most people can’t afford to live.”
She has called for residents of Greater Knysna to show their dissatisfaction by attending the council meeting en masse.
“Council meetings are open to the public, and residents have every right to attend. Please do,” she enthused, “It is time the residents make their voices heard,” she said, encouraging people to bring placards to show solidarity as the petition is presented to the Mayor and Municipal Manager.”
Asked for comment, Sedgefield Ratepayers and Residents Association (SR&RA) Chairman Andy Brough said, “We believe that ratepayers will see an adjusted cent in the rand on property rates; however, the Municipality must ensure the alignment of the entire budget with the integrated development plan (IDP). SR&RA notes that the IDP is still under review. Mayor Tsengwa assures us he has heard the Sedgefield community’s concerns, but it still needs to be determined how service delivery will be achieved at the ward level. Even if this budget is passed, legislation stipulates that the Municipality must conduct its affairs in a manner consistent with the IDP.”
Sedgefield residents are also eager to see if the funds allocated in previous years for housing in Smutsville but not specifically mentioned in the proposed 2023-2024 budget document, will reappear.

Picture: SR&RA Chair Dr Andy Brough

CLOSING DATE EXTENDED TO 19 MAY

Locals will certainly agree that over the last two months, the Sedgefield Ratepayers and Residents Association (SR&RA) has directed a lot of energy towards mobilising locals to have a hard look at the proposed 2023/4 Municipal Budget – and their efforts have shown dividends. At time of going to press, the number of objections from Sedgefield residents was around 700.
These, combined with around 600 objections and a 4000-signature petition from Knysna residents, should certainly give the local authority cause to sit up, listen and head back to the drafting board.
These numbers are set to increase as the date for objections to close has been pushed to Friday, 19 May.
Whilst National Government has also weighed in through COGTA (see article on page 3), Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has met with a group of interested parties – including members of the SR&RA ExCo – and reported that Provincial Treasury is on the case. A deployed party has spent a week in Knysna and compiled a 40-page report which the Premier is currently reviewing. Whilst he could not, as yet give full details of the report, Winde did mention that the number one finding clearly indicated a lack of governance in the Knysna Municipality. The Treasury report will be made public once finalised.
In the SR&RA’s objection letter to the proposed 2023/24 budget, Chair Andy Brough has raised 16 points of order and referred to the budget as unsustainable, drafted on the unrealistic assumption of an overall rate increase of 32,9%.
“We ran nine scenarios using models for vacant land, pensioners, indigents, guest houses, domestic households, businesses, and agricultural property,” the letter stated, “We were shocked to see that the combined effect of the new property rates (together with the proposed water, sanitation and electricity tariffs) results in us paying anything between 9.4% and 30% more year on year! Pensioners could expect to pay 21% more. On a R2.2 million property, the net effect of the increased electricity tariff and property rates alone would mean an increase of 21%.”
This when National Treasury’s headline inflation guideline is that increases should be 4.7% – 5.3%.
One of the main, if not THE biggest problem the SR&RA has with the proposed Knysna Municipal budget is the disappearance of Sedgefield’s R42 million, which had previously been allocated for building much-needed low-income houses over the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 budget periods. Brough explains in the objection letter that this was brought up in a Ward 1 IDP/Budget meeting held on 2 May, but the invited dignitaries from Knysna Municipality could shed no light on why this allocation had been redirected elsewhere.
“No satisfactory answers were forthcoming from Executive Mayor Aubrey Tsengwa; Director of Integrated Human Settlements, Mr Lindile Petuna; and the Municipal Manager, Mr Ombali Sebola, as to what has happened to this money,” wrote Brough, “The Mayor is on record promising the Smutsville residents that the housing project would advance. However, these reassurances would be more credible if the capital required and previously allocated were reflected in this budget. Could they please explain how the top priority for Ward 1 (Housing) has a zero-budget allocation? This makes no sense and makes a complete farce of the public participation/ward committee process.”
With only two days to go, the SR&RA urges anyone who hasn’t objected – be they ratepayers or residents of Sedgefield – to consider adding their voice should they not wish to face huge increases in their municipal accounts from July 2023 onwards.

 

2023 SIMOLA HILLCLIMB SET TO DELIVER FAN-FRIENDLY AUTOMOTIVE EXTRAVAGANZA

• Fan Fest, street parades and a chance to see the cars and drivers up-close at official scrutineering add to the excitement and adrenaline-fuelled atmosphere before the Simola Hillclimb even starts.

• Gasoline Alley offers some of the best views of the event with a variety of activities, exhibitors, food and beverage vendors to make it a fun-filled family affair.

• Demonstration runs from event partners add to the spectacle, including exciting products from Suzuki, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen.

If the country’s most spectacular and fastest cars are your thing, there’s only one place to be from 4 to 7 May 2023, and that’s at the 13th edition of the Simola Hillclimb in Knysna.
This year’s event will be bigger and better on all fronts, and that doesn’t just apply to the extraordinary road and race cars that will aggressively speed up the 1.9 km Simola Hill, or the dazzling list of top-tier local drivers and some high-profile international drivers such as WRC and WRX champion Petter Solberg who will be in the mix.

There is truly something for everyone, with plenty of attractions to get your adrenaline flowing – even before fans make their way to the event itself, with Classic Car Friday taking place on 5 May, followed by King of the Hill on Saturday and Sunday, 6 and 7 May.

“Classic Car Friday and King of the Hill are obviously the main attractions at the Simola Hillclimb, but there is so much more to this event to enthral motoring and motorsport enthusiasts of all ages and interests, including a Fan Fest and the popular street parades,” says Ian Shrosbree, Managing Director of the Knysna Speed Festival which owns the Simola Hillclimb. “This all helps build the atmosphere and excitement leading into the main events and allows all of Knysna’s residents to enjoy a part of the Hillclimb.”

The Fan Fest precinct will include the Knysna High School grounds and surrounding roads on Thursday and Friday (4 and 5 May) from 11h00, with free access to see the wide range of new cars that will be on display along with other motoring-related items and goods for sale.

Eager enthusiasts who would like to see the cars set to compete in the event close-up before the action commences can head to Hedge Street in Knysna for the official scrutineering, which takes place from 09h00 to 14h30 on Thursday 4 May for Classic Car Friday entrants, and the same time the next day for all King of the Hill competitors.

Nothing beats the sights and sounds of these spectacular cars on the move, and the street parades are always among the major event highlights. Be sure to secure your spot along the scenic Waterfront Drive on Thursday 4 May from 14h45 to 15h15 to see the classic cars parading by, and on Friday from 17h15 to 17h45 for the road cars and pure race-bred machines that will compete in King of the Hill.

Enthusiasts who have secured their tickets to South Africa’s premier motoring and motorsport lifestyle event can look forward to plenty of further attractions once through the gates into the Simola Hillclimb.

Gasoline Alley is the main public viewing area to see the cars charging up the steep Simola Hill. It has some of the best views of the track and, of course, the scenic Knysna Heads and estuary as a breathtaking backdrop.

A variety of local food vendors, exhibitors and a public bar will be available in Gasoline Alley, along with a jumping castle to keep the young kids under 12 entertained. Older children and adults can get their pulses racing by testing their driving skills on the ATK Esports Racing Simulators, and families are invited to bring along chairs and picnic blankets to enjoy all the Simola Hillclimb has to offer.
In between the practice and qualifying runs, spectators will be treated to demonstration runs up the Simola Hill featuring motorcycles and cars, including the latest two-wheeled machines from Suzuki which is a Tier 1 partner.

“We are very excited to be doing lunchtime exhibition runs with our Suzuki motorcycles for the third year running,” says Brendon Carpenter, Brand Marketing Manager at Suzuki Auto South Africa. “This year we have Jaco Viviers of Suzuki Richards Bay piloting the latest version of the Suzuki GSX-R1000R up the hill. Chris Kuun from Suzuki Auto SA will be riding the recently launched Suzuki DL 1050 DE V-Strom adventure bike which will be another first at the Simola Hillclimb.”

As another Tier 1 partner, BMW will be doing demonstration runs up the Simola Hill with the latest BMW M5 and X6M. Outside of the main event, BMW will also participate in a special parade lap through Knysna in celebration of the company’s 50th Jubilee in South Africa. This will include classic cars from BMW car clubs that will be in attendance.

Honda is a Tier 2 partner and will be doing demonstration runs with the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade superbike and its newly launched Civic Type R, with the Japanese manufacturer also confirming that Deon Joubert will be competing in King of the Hill in this exciting new performance model. Volkswagen, also a Tier 2 partner, will reveal a new racing car during lunch time on Saturday.

Monster Energy Drinks will be back in action with its crowd-favourite Mustang drift car smoking its tyres on the hill with Jason Webb at the wheel, while Brent Le Riche will entertain the crowd with his incredible trials bike skills.

Time is running out fast with just one day to go before Knysna comes alive with the most spectacular automotive extravaganza in South Africa – so don’t miss out, get your tickets today!

Purchase your tickets online
Tickets can be purchased on the event website (www.simolahillclimb.com), with the prices for General Entry remaining unchanged from last year. Upgrades are available for Pit Access, Turn 2 Grandstand seating and VIP Parking.