SA WOMEN FIGHT BACK

SA Women Fight Back‘s 1 hour of silence for all South Africa’s fallen angels to be held at Forest Lodge, Sedgefield, on 31st August at 11.00. 

Participants should dress in black, in unison with other women across the globe. Ladies should arrive by 10.30 and will create a seating circle – in line with similar groups meeting world-wide. The  hour of silence starts at 11am.  According to the local organisers, if ladies would like to bring a photograph of their fallen angel they are welcome to do so. No banners or posters to be brought as these will be supplied. If this is something that rings true to you you are encouraged to also join the local WhatsApp group https://chat.whatsapp.com/E9X2p3CxlUfBoGO0RzPiR9

Please note – The SA Woman Fight Back Event is a non-violent , non-racial , non-political and passive initiative .

IT’S MELODRAMA TIME

Last night saw the opening night of Sedgefield’s biggest annual entertainment extravaganza, the famous MELODRAMA!
Twenty four cast members, many of them ‘first-timers’, and 12 crew were understandably suffering from serious first-night jitters as they waited for the curtains to rise.
But as soon as the first number began, the butterflies disappeared and the cast Delivered with a capital D! Producer Margie van Rensburg was overwhelmed by the audience’s response.
“They were whooping and cheering, and we were complimented left right and centre,” she enthused. Indeed one couple who had been going to Melodrama for years pulled her aside and admitted that they hadn’t known what to expect from such a new cast and many of the ‘old stalwarts’ not involved.
“But my goodness, you have got absolutely fantastic new talent this year – we enjoyed every single minute of the show!” they told her.
Last year’s Melodrama raised over R160 000 for local charities and the team is aiming high again this year. Tickets for 22, 23, and 29 August are still available – book yours at Fijnbosch Coffee Shop.

WE’RE 21!

Yes – it’s official – Sedgefield’s favourite (we like to think) Community Newspaper has come of age!

We have included a brief bit of the newspaper’s history on the centre pages of this edition, but would like to take this front page opportunity to publicly thank the many, many wonderful people who have been involved in keeping us afloat for so many years.

From the businesses who have advertised (three have been with us since day one!) to the many wonderful volunteer writers who tirelessly submit their articles, often to be told at the last minute that there’s suddenly no space available, to the photographers (you want a picture of WHAT?) to the readers from Sedgefield, Greater Knysna and beyond! Even the crotchety old-timer who used to pop in and point out our spelling mistakes has played a huge part in making The EDGE what it is today (we have a proofreader now!)
And, whilst we are gushing in appreciation, the extra-efficient crew of printers at DCU is also more than worthy of a nod of great gratitude for their patience and ever-helpful manner.

Lastly, but by no means least, the clueless couple who are supposed to be running The EDGE would like to thank our AMAZING team, who have all stuck by us through thick (we had a company Christmas dinner once) and thin (our 500th edition was celebrated with a packet of lemon cremes).

We are truly blessed to have you on our side.

RATEPAYERS & DA CHALLENGE 20% INCREASES FOR MUNICIPAL BOSSES

On 2 August the Democratic Alliance issued the following press statement regarding a recently approved increase in remuneration for the Knysna Municipal Manager and Directors.
The Knysna Democratic Alliance Caucus has delivered its Motion to Rescind the approval of an allowance which increases the salaries of the Municipal Manager and Directors by 20%. The DA’s motion also requires that amounts already paid to the Municipal Manager and Directors in respect of this allowance be recovered.
The Scarce Skills Allowance was approved by a majority of Councillors at a Knysna Council Meeting on 11 June 2019. All DA Councillors, with the exception of Cllr Peter Myers, voted against the approval of this allowance.
According to documents received from the Chief Financial Officer: the Municipal Manager (Dr Vatala) and Directors (Mr Memani, Ms Makoma, Mr Hariparsad and Ms Boyce) have been back-paid R697,790.86 in respect of the scarce skills allowance.
Going forward, the scarce skills allowance will cost Knysna residents an additional R1,385,231.88 per year for the Municipal Manager and Directors.
The 20% Scarce Skills allowance exceeds the upper limits of total remuneration packages payable to Municipal Managers and Directors. The National Minister of COGTA, Minister Mkhize, and the Western Cape Provincial Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, MEC Bredell, have stated that these upper limits are valid and enforceable and that municipalities are required to comply therewith.
The Knysna Council claims to currently have insufficient funds to provide basic services such as the repair of potholes and the provision of basic sanitation to all households. It is the view of the Knysna Democratic Alliance caucus that it is therefore neither right nor reasonable that this Council pays such exorbitant salaries to its Municipal Manager and Directors.
The annual increase that the ‘scarce skills allowances’ will add to the salaries of Municipal Manager and Directors are currently as follows:

Position Remuneration Package/year Scarce Skills % Scarce Skills Allowance/ year Total remuneration / year
Municipal Manager increase R269,773.80  – Ammended Annual Salary R1,618,642.80
CFO increase R226,952.04 – Ammended Annual Salary R1,361,712.24
Director: Corporate Services increase R220,518.00 Ammended Annual Salary R1,323,108.00
Director: Technical Services increase R220,518.00 Ammended Annual Salary R1,323,108.00
Director: Planning & Development increase R226,952.04 Ammended Annual Salary R1,361,712.24
Director: Community Services increase R220,518.00 Ammended Annual Salary R1,323,108.00

The Motion to rescind the Scarce Skills Allowance will be submitted to the Knysna Municipal Council at its next Ordinary Council Meeting. Should the motion not be successful, the Democratic Alliance Knysna caucus will report the matter to the MEC for Local Government, the Auditor-General and the National Minister of COGTA for investigation.

The Knysna Ratepayers Association also challenged the decision to approve the municipal salary increases, though for different reasons. They have issued the following statement.
We have noted the Knysna DA’s press release of 2 August 2019 regarding their intention to rescind the Council decision to pay a 20% scarce skills allowance to Municipal Directors and the Municipal Manager.
It is no secret that the Knysna Ratepayers Association (“KRA”) does not support the decision by Council to pay the 20% scarce skills allowance. Council effectively increased the Municipal Manager’s and the Directors’ salaries by 20%, backdated to August 2018.
We are further of the view that the Municipal Manager’s report to Council, in which the scarce skills allowance was motivated, contained misleading information relating to the legality of backdating the allowance.
To enable us to make a decision on how to take the matter further, on 16 July 2019 we requested access to information relating to the contested Council decision, pursuant to section 18(1) of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2000 (the “PAIA Act”).
The content of our PAIA request is set out as follows.
1. A copy of the recording of the proceedings in respect of the following items on the Supplementary Agenda for the Special Council meeting of 11 June 2019:
6.5 Employment Contracts of Section 54a and 56 Managers and
6.6 Scarce Skills Allowance for Section 54a and 56 Managers.
2. Copies of the employment contracts of the Municipal Manager and all the Senior Managers, excluding the Director Housing, as well as any amendments and/or addendums to the contracts.
3. A copy of the KM scarce skills policy.
4. Copies of all correspondence between the Knysna Municipality and the Western Cape MEC for Local Government relating to the MM and Senior Managers.
5. Copies of all correspondence between the Knysna Municipality and the Minister of COGTA relating to the MM and Senior Managers.
6. The following information is required relating to any payments that may have been made to Directors and/or the MM in respect of the 20% allowance that was approved by Council on 11 June 2019.
• A breakdown of each payment to each Director and the MM.
• The date/s of each payment.
• The amount of each payment.
• Details of how each payment is calculated.
We have not yet received a response from Knysna Municipality to that request.
On 16 July 2019, we also submitted a separate request for the written reasons for the contested Council decision pursuant to section 5(1) of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 (PAJA).
In that request, we stated: “…it is also stipulated in section 5(3), that the decision you have made must be regarded as a decision with no good reasons if you fail to provide adequate written reasons for your decision. This is a reason for taking such a decision on … judicial review.”
We have not yet received a response from Knysna Municipality to that request.
We await responses to both our PAIA and our PAJA requests prior to taking further action.
The Committee

DA WEIGHS IN ON BACKDATED RATES INCREASES

(Picture: Ward 1 Councilor Levael Davis proposed a motion against the Rates Policy which allows rate increases to be backdated..)

Currently, the subject of municipal rates has become a controversial subject, especially amongst the rural dwellers of the greater Knysna area.
This after many have received notice that their properties have been rezoned from ‘agriculture’ to ‘residential’, and the new rates (in some cases increased by as much as 300%) back-dated to 2017.
Whilst many have been in communication with the municipality regarding their individual cases, the DA Caucus has decided to challenge the root cause of the controversial issue.
On Tuesday 6 August they issued the following statement.
The Knysna Democratic Alliance Caucus has delivered its Motion to amend the Knysna Municipality Property Rates Policy 2019 / 2020 so that rates and/or services cannot be backdated following an error or omission on the part of the municipality.
Paragraph 18 of the approved Rates Policy states that where the rates levied on a particular property have been incorrectly determined due to an error or omission on the part of the municipality, the rates payable shall be appropriately adjusted for the period extending from the date on which the error or omission is detected back to the date on which rates were first levied in terms of the current valuation roll.
During policy workshops held before the approval of the new budget, Councillors argued that the backdating of rates and/or services where there had been an error or omission on the part of the municipality (unless the error was that rates and/or services were payable but had not been levied) would be unfair on residents. It was agreed by the administration that this would be changed before the final Property Rates Policy was presented to Council for approval.

On 30 May 2019 when the budget-related policies were presented to Council for approval, seven of the DA Councillors (Cllrs Wolmarans, Davis, Weideman, Pofadder, Kwinana, Tyokolo and Wasserman) abstained from voting because we had not been given enough time to read the documents provided to us for approval. The DA argued that we could not approve budget-related policies when we had not had time to determine whether the changes that we had requested had in fact been made.
The majority of the Knysna Council, however, voted to approve the budget-related policies that had been presented to the Council.
It has now been established that paragraph 18 of the Property Rates Policy was approved without the requested amendment having been made.
We have become aware of instances where Knysna Municipality has corrected the status of usage of residents’ land and then relied on paragraph 18 of the approved Property Rates policy to backdate the rates for the previous two years. A resident commented that: “to add insult to injury Knysna Municipality then also charged interest on the overdue amount”.
The Democratic Alliance in Knysna believes that Paragraph 18 of the approved Rates Policy is grossly unfair and probably unlawful and has therefore delivered a motion asking that all backdated rates and/or interest charged thereon in terms of paragraph 18 of the Property Rates Policy 2019 / 2020 approved on 30 May 2019 be reversed.
The motion, proposed by Cllr Levael Davis (DA Ward Councillor for Ward 1) on behalf of the DA Knysna caucus will be submitted to the Knysna Municipal Council at its next Ordinary Council Meeting.

WHAT A MADIBA DAY FOR ANGELINE!

The morning of Madiba Day, Thursday 18 June, found Angeline Armoed weeping. But her tears were of joy, not sorrow, because she had just been told by Annie Brinkhuis that she was getting the best gift ever. Her own home, compliments of Knysna Municipality and a private donor.

Born in Ruigtevlei, Angeline is a senior citizen who has been staying with her family in Sedgefield for approximately 30 years. According to Annie, who holds the Human Settlements portfolio on the local Ward Committee, Angeline has been a ‘back yard dweller’ since her husband died 17 years ago, and she and her children have battled to make ends meet since then.

“She was actually on the list to receive one of the first RDP houses in the late nineties,” says Annie, “But somehow her name got shifted off and she lost out.”Christopher Bezuidenhoudt of Knysna Municipality says the family’s vulnerability makes them an ideal recipient of this housing opportunity “The household is exposed to extreme poverty. The municipality is extremely grateful to Nyameko Trading 618CC for their contribution in making this family’s dream of their own home a reality.

Later in the morning of Mandela Day, the Knysna Executive Mayor Mark Willemse, Ward Councillor Levael Davis, Municipal Manager Dr SW Vatala and other municipal officials arrived to initiate the project by staking the property pegs into the ground. The Mayor also presented Ms Armoed with a signed pledge for the project.

Construction of the 42sq.m house, which will be an ‘eco-home’ that is fire resistant, will commence soon, and it is believed that the walls will be up within a month.
“I want to say thanks to God,” Angeline enthused, clearly emotional about her good fortune, “I have waited long enough, and He has blessed me with this house.”

SHAKESPEARE IS A SELLOUT

Picture: Gareth Pretorious and Nita Allsop clash clubs in an oddly Scottish version of Macbeth. (by ELRorke Photography)

Halfway through July this year, the community amateur dramatic society known as ‘The Sedge Players’ launched a comedy with a twist for the unsuspecting Garden Route audiences. But the six-strong cast and crew (three of each) had no idea how well received it would be, and that audiences would be drawn from Mossel Bay to Plett and everywhere in between.

The unmitigated (and unexpected) success of this comical attempt of ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)’ has led to an unprecedented run of sold-out shows, a two performance extension (also sold out) and invitations to perform their production in two much larger venues in much larger towns – George’s Arts Theatre and Knysna’s Oakhill School.

It’s on the back of this delightful turn of events that the cast and crew have decided to give back to the Sedgefield community by putting on a Charity ‘Blanket Show’ in conjunction with The Edge’s Blanket Drive. This will take place on 31 July at Studio 42. The simple concept is as follows: – book your seats via Whatsapp or SMS on 084 567 9809 and, instead of paying the R100 entry fee, bring a blanket – either new or second hand (clean and unstained please!), and this will go towards the drive to make Sedgefield winters warmer for the less fortunate. The blankets will be handed over to Masithandane for distribution in the Smutsville, Sizamile and Karatara communities.“Should you not have a blanket to bring,” says producer Melanie Baumeister, “The usual R100 entrance fee will apply – but this too will be used to buy blankets for the drive.”

There is a full review of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) on page 6 of the latest edition. But in short – if you love Shakespeare, you’ll love this show, if you HATE Shakespeare, you’ll love this show, and if you couldn’t give a hoot about Shakespeare, well, you’ll find this show an absolute hoot!

RATES HIKE RAISES CONCERNS

The most recent rates invoices presented a nasty shock to a number of Greater Knysna residents, particularly those residing in the more rural areas. This after their rates showed dramatic increases – sometimes by as much as 300%. Worse yet, these increases have been back-dated to 2017.
Those who approached the newspaper with concerns over this issue have asked for their names to be withheld as they are currently exchanging communication with municipal officials to see what, if anything, can be done to reduce the increases.
“I have serious issues as to how this has been carried out,” said one resident of the Hoogekraal area. “There was no consultation, no notification of valuations being done. We paid our rates in full for the 2017 / 2018 year, and again for the 2018 / 2019 year, but now we have been hit with backdated increases and told we are in arrears!”
It seems that the change in the rates charged stems from the Knysna Municipal Supplementary Valuation Roll for 2017 / 2022, which was undertaken by DDP Property Valuation Experts and certified in Pretoria on 31 March 2019.
The document lists close to 1000 properties in the Greater Knysna area which have been subject to a change in rates. Mostly this is due to the property either being rezoned by the valuators, or because they have assessed a substantial change in its market value.
A huge number of rural properties are on the Supplementary Valuation Roll, having been rezoned as ‘Residential’, whilst others in residential areas have been rezoned as ‘business’. A query by one resident who asked why his farm had lost its ‘agriculture’ zoning when nothing had changed on the property for years, received the following explanation from the Municipality:
“In order for the category to be changed to agriculture, proof of Bona Fide farming from SARS is required. In the case of subsistence farming the criteria above apply. The approval is subject to an in-loco inspection to the property.”
But even on acceptance of the new zoning, the two year backdating of the much higher-rates to 2017 seems for many the most bitter pill to swallow. The general consensus seems to be that though their rates have always been paid, and no skulduggery entered into by the property owners, they are being forced to pay the back-dated amount. “It’s almost like I’m being fined for something I didn’t do,” said one affected property owner, “If the Municipality hadn’t changed our zoning and billed us accordingly back then, why are we now liable for two years of the new rates backdated?”
But once again – the response from the Municipality to such a query indicated that the property owners must fork out, regardless.
“In terms of the rates policy, where the rates levied on a particular property have been incorrectly determined, whether because of an error or omission on the part of the Municipality or false information provided by the property owner concerned or a contravention of the permitted use to which the property concerned may be put, the rates payable shall be appropriately adjusted for the period extending from the date on which the error or omission is detected back to the date on which rates were first levied in terms of the current valuation roll.”
When The EDGE asked the Knysna Municipality for comment on the rate-hikes, Spokesperson Christopher Bezuidenhoudt referred us to the valuation roll notice, which reads as follows:
Supplementary Valuation Roll 2
In terms of the Municipal Property Rates Act “Agricultural property” means property that is used primarily for agricultural purposes but excludes any portion thereof that is used commercially for the hospitality of guests, and excludes the use of the property for the purpose of eco-tourism or for the trading /hunting of game.
In terms of Knysna Municipality’s Rates Policy “Bona-fide farmer” means genuine or real farmer whose dominant income is generated from farming activities, on an agricultural property, within the Knysna municipal area, and is taxed by SARS as a bona-fide farmer.
The Rates Policy further notes that Agricultural Properties used primarily for agricultural activities will be rated at the prescribed ratio as per the Municipal Property Rates Regulations. In terms of section 2(d) of Council’s approved tariffs, the agricultural tariff is only applicable to owners of agricultural properties who are registered with SARS as bona fide farmers.
Properties categorised as “Non-Urban domestic (Residential)” in the General Valuation Roll of 2017 / 2022, were re-categorised to “Residential” in a Supplementary Valuation Roll due to the Non-Urban domestic tariff being phased out, whilst other properties were re-categorised in terms of actual use.
Notices advertising the publication of the Supplementary Valuation Roll 2 were duly published in the Provincial Gazette and once a week for two consecutive weeks in the media, as required by the Municipal Property Rates Act, Act 6 of 2004. This notice invited every person who wished to lodge an objection in respect of any matter omitted in or from the roll, to do so in the prescribed manner within the stated period.
Notices were posted to property owners and this notification, together with the Supplementary Valuation Roll 2, were published on the official website of the Municipality.
The objection period for the Supplementary Valuation Roll 2 closed on the 29 May 2019.
In terms of section 78 1(a) Municipal Property Rates Act 6 of 2004, a municipality must, whenever necessary, cause a supplementary valuation to be made in respect of any rateable property.
Section 78 (4) further notes that rates on a property based on the valuation of that property in a supplementary valuation become payable with effect from the date of which the category has changed.
Bezuidenhoudt also suggested that those with queries are welcome to communicate them directly with the Municipality.
“Please note that not all cases are the same. We invite property owners to contact the Director of Financial Services, Mr Mbulelo Memani, or the Manager of Income, Ms Busiswa Kova for clarification on their individual accounts,” he said.

MAKE A MANDELA DAY DIFFERENCE

On 18 July South Africa once again celebrates its most famous icon – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. And what better way to honour this legend than continuing his legacy of caring for those less fortunate – which is exactly what Mandela Day is all about.
The new Mandela Day goals for the 2019-2029 decade are to address the issues of food and nutrition, education and literacy, shelter, sanitation and active citizenship. People of South Africa are encouraged to spend 67 minutes (or more!) on this day, serving those in need. Whether it be an individual who you know requires assistance, upliftment, or even an hour or so of company, or a charity that could do with a bit of help whilst they serve others, this is a call to plan ahead and get involved.
On a local level, big-hearted Sedgefield has been blessed with several very active charity organisations, all of which really embrace the practice of helping those in need. If you would like to get involved – be it for Mandela Day or on an ongoing basis, please make contact on the numbers provided.
Fresh Start 083 231 5844; Masithandane 044 343 2110; Mobile Meals 083 379 3737; TLC 084 544 1203; SAM 082 420 4825; Sedgemeer Park 044 343 1683.

SCAMMER NAMED AND ARRESTED

The name of the woman who has over the last six months allegedly been defrauding people through her accommodation booking agency has finally been officially released.

SAPS Spokesperson Captain Malcolm Poje said “I can confirm that the accused – Marianne Roux (32) – appeared in the Thembalethu magistrates’ court earlier today (Monday 24 June) in connection with a theft case that was reported to the George SAPS during January 2019. She initially defrauded people by taking their deposits that were supposed to be paid over to the rightful owners of places of holiday accommodation, using the deposits for her own lavish lifestyle.”

He said that she had been arrested at her home in Sedgefield on Friday, 21 June 2019 and detained at Conville SAPS holding cells until her first court appearance on Monday 24 June.

Though only facing a single case at this time, there are numerous other cases that have been opened against Roux by other victims who have fallen prey to her fraudulent behaviour, and evidence is being gathered by SAPS with the assistance of some of these victims.

Poje says that only time will tell how many people Roux has scammed.

“So far 13 complainants have come forward to report that they have been defrauded,” he stated, “This scammer is believed to have swindled these innocent people out of money amounting to more than R70 000.00. We believe that more people could have been conned, we therefore appeal to potential victims to report it to their nearest police station.” He added that people from as far as Lephalale, Midrand, Kempton Park and Bellville had fallen prey to this scammer.

Since January this year The EDGE has regularly included reports of the fraudulent activities of this local lady, but as she hadn’t been officially arrested and charged we could not legally reveal her identity until her first appearance in court.

This legality was a source of frustration for those she had duped. More than a few were clamouring for her name to be ‘put out there’, especially as it seemed she was conning more and more people as the months wore on. Though some had opened police cases against Roux, the wheels of justice were evidently turning slowly for this ‘white collar crime’. This was partly because at least a few of the cases were opened by people living elsewhere in the country at their local police stations.

When news of visitors’ money disappearing into the seemingly bottomless pockets of Roux broke in January this year, a few locals thought that it was merely a result of mismanagement by the young business lady. After all, she was a born and bred Sedgefield mother with strong roots in the community. Indeed when Jurgens van der Walt of the Sedge Info Centre heard the reports of her misdemeanors, he contacted Roux directly and suggested that she ‘come clean’.

“If Marianne had admitted then that she owed the money and agreed to stop her business, and seek help, I’m sure that she could have avoided the jail time she’s facing now,” he said. But though she made promises to him that she would do this, Roux actually continued her very questionable ‘business dealings’.

It wasn’t long before her fraudulent activities mounted up to reach a point of no return, and her victims started clamouring for her arrest – especially when they realised how many of them she had soft-soaped with the same excuses, promises and falsified proof of payments.

Such was their frustration that on 6 June, a ‘WhatsApp’ group was formed by the victims with the aim of gathering information. Before long it grew to 26 members, most of whom had been on the wrong end of Roux’s fraud. Some suffered the simple loss of a R2000 breakage deposit, whilst others have accommodated Roux’s clients but never been paid. There is even a family who relocated to George to find that the house they had ‘leased’ through Roux (with deposit and rent paid for in advance) wasn’t even available for rent.

One member of the group is Estelle Ciaglia, a Cape Town resident who was scammed by Marianne for an amount of R4000 for accommodation booked and paid for in February 2019. (The booking was for her family holiday in December this year, but Estelle has since found out that the owner of the property was not even aware that her house had been rented out, and had certainly received no money from Roux.) Estelle has been assisting SAPS Detective Constable Yoko, the investigating officer, in gathering information on behalf of the victims of Roux, and says that his sterling efforts need to be applauded.
“I have never before come across a SAPS member with so much dedication and commitment. He was absolutely “walking the extra mile” and we salute this exceptional man,” she wrote in an email to The EDGE. Even after he had secured Roux’s arrest, she explained, Yoko had worked diligently to make sure the evidence was in order. “He has provided outstanding service in this case. Even whilst being on sick leave he was committed to continuing his investigation right through the weekend and ’til very late on Saturday evening,” she said.

During her first appearance in court Roux was remanded in custody and the case was postponed to 11 July 2019 for a formal bail application which, according to SAPS Malcolm Poje, the investigating officer will oppose.

Meanwhile Jurgens van der Walt says the Sedgefield Info Centre is appealing for people to spread the word that family and friends should not book any accommodation through any of Marianne Roux’s sites, Eden Events or Eden Travel, and that if they have already done so they should make every effort to contact the owners of their holiday accommodation to make sure they are actually booked in. He fears that people may arrive in the Garden Route for their annual holiday, only to find that they have nowhere to stay!