NUMBERS DOWN 43%

Picture: Nursing staff of Sedgefield Clinic were performing up to 58 Covid tests a day during the peak period of the second wave.

There was a collective sigh of relief on Monday 25 January, when the Garden Route District Director of Health Zee Brickles announced that the district has shown a 43% decline in new COVID-19 cases over the past seven days when compared to 7-14 days previously, as well as a decline in hospitalisations.

Indeed, according to the Western Cape Health Department Covid dashboard, the Garden Route ‘Seven Day Moving Average’ (ie the average number of new cases per day for the last week) was sitting at 56 on 26 January, compared to 164 on 18 January, and 430 on 14 December.
Director Brickles was quick to point out, however, that though this percentage drop in Covid infections is sizeable, it certainly shouldn’t be taken to indicate that this wave is over.
“We are optimistic about the decline in numbers but remain vigilant in order to contain any cluster outbreaks through responding as early as possible. We have to maintain our momentum of surveillance and monitoring as a Department but also rely on the community to keep up with the protective behaviours (wearing a mask at all times in public, avoiding crowded spaces, avoiding spaces with poor ventilation and maintaining social distancing) that have brought about the gains which we now see,” he said

Increasing our protection through vaccination.
As vaccines arrive in South Africa (it is estimated that 1 000 000 vaccines will be made available for all frontline workers before the end of January), the Western Cape Government will play a stewardship role.
Administration of these vaccines forms part of the vaccine roll-out strategy which the Department is working on, including the logistics thereof, with the input of private sector roleplayers.
The roll-out will be executed in a phased approach, with the first phase targeting healthcare workers. The second phase will target essential workers, people in congregate settings, persons older than 60 years, and persons older than 18 years with comorbidities. The third phase is envisioned to target people older than 18 years who have not been vaccinated during the first two phases.

FIRST EDITION OF 2021

Picture:- Old friend of The EDGE (and often our technological life-saver) Christo du Preez married Theresa Styles just before Christmas.
We couldn’t resist sharing this lovely picture of the couple. The full story of their quirky betrothal is on page 3 of the latest edition.

As this is our first edition of 2021, we’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year…. we’d really, really like to.

Though it has started unlike any other year in memory (unless you are old enough to recall the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic) it also feels like everything is staying the same. What happened to that bright and shiny, COVID-free new year, where we were planning to hit the ground running with clean slates clutched in our hands…?

But what the heck – all of us at The EDGE DO wish everyone – our readers, our writers, our advertisers and even our braai-starters – the absolute best that 2021 has to offer. Good health, precious time with loved ones, and an absolute ABUNDANCE of joy, even if you do find it in totally different forms this year.

Please click on ‘Latest Edition’ to read all the local news, views, blues, PHEW!s and WHOO-WHOOs that Sedgefield has to offer.

CHALLENGING THE BEACH CLOSURE

Garden Routers are up in arms regarding the decision to close local beaches from today, following the announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night.
The Garden Route District now faces similar COVID-19 restrictions to those imposed on the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality; these are meant to curb a resurgence of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday, 14 December 2020 that Cabinet had made the decision to declare the Garden Route District Municipal area a Coronavirus hotspot with some additional restrictions.
Some restrictions are already in place, while others will follow over the festive season, including the controversial closing of Garden Route beaches from 16 December until 3 January 2021.
Alderman Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor for the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), said: “The closure of beaches is a hard pill to swallow because we are a tourism destination and our economy is still struggling to recoup from the hard lockdown.”
An urgent Garden Route District Coordinating Forum (DCF) was called by Mayor Booysen yesterday morning where he engaged with local Municipal Mayors, Municipal Managers, Command Centre Cluster Leaders, and stakeholders from SANParks, Cape Nature, The National Prosecuting Authority, Western Cape Government Health, South African Police Services (SAPS), Western Cape Government Department of Local Government, etc. to discuss the consequences of the President’s announcement.
“Our plea and request/ submission from this morning’s engagement and from the onset of the resurgence of COVID-19 in our region, has been for beaches in the Garden Route to remain open,” Ald. Booysen said.
Later Alderman Booysen was due to represent the Garden Route Municipalities and present the agreed submissions from the morning’s GRDM DCF engagement at a special cabinet meeting.
The next step is for submissions to be communicated to the National Command Council, with the backing of the Western Cape Government.
“One submission of particular importance to the Garden Route is for the Cabinet to relax the restrictions relating to the closure of beaches and to change it to the same restrictions faced by Kwazulu-Natal (KZN),” said Booysen. KZN beaches only have to be closed on 16, 25, 26 and 31 December 2020.
“I am adamant that we can still get through this if we avoid crowded places, close-contact settings, confined spaces and enclosed spaces. In addition, Garden Routers and tourists need to adhere to the golden rules of keeping safe and adhere to the new regulations.”
“We agree wholeheartedly with the tightening of alcohol sales,” he continued, “Because it will lower the unnecessary alcohol-related trauma cases we often see at hospitals. We are hopeful that this resurgence will be over quickly.”

HOTSPOT ALERT ISSUED FOR GARDEN ROUTE

Yesterday, 17 November, the Western Cape Government issued an urgent hotspot alert for the Garden Route, due to the rapidly increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the area. This spike is mainly contributing to the notable growth of active cases in the Western Cape.
“Despite our wanting to return to normal, and despite the relative success of our COVID-19 response, it is important to keep up our prevention behaviour. COVID-19 is not gone; we need to work together to avoid a second wave. As more people are moving around and economic activity is allowed under level 1 restrictions, we are seeing smaller clusters of infections flare up. Many of these flare-ups originate at social gatherings which can be anything from a party, religious gathering or even in a workplace – any place where large numbers of people congregate that is crowded, has poor ventilation and social distancing cannot be maintained. When going out, always wear your mask and avoid crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. Do not become complacent. Even when you feel safe between friends and family, you should continue to wear your mask and maintain a distance of at least 1,5 m from other people”, said District Health Director, Mr Zee Brickles.
“Specifically, we are concerned about the increasing number of cases in George, Knysna and Bitou. George, which currently has 628 active cases, has the highest number of active cases in the province.
“Along with the increasing number of cases in the region, we are also seeing the number of hospitalisations increase. Our hospitals still have sufficient capacity to cope with the surge in cases, however, we must all take responsibility to ensure that we are able to contain the further spread of the virus.
“The hotspot team for the Garden Route has increased surveillance, through screening and testing. We are also working closely with municipalities, environmental health teams, and stakeholders in the region to manage and contain the spread. This includes a concerted communications campaign in the area. We are also paying special attention to vulnerable groups, including old age homes.
“We need every single resident of the Garden Route and visitors to the region to help us stop this surge by:
1) Wearing your mask at all times when out in public places
2) Avoiding gatherings
3)Avoiding crowded places, especially where there is poor ventilation
4) Staying at least 1.5 metres apart
5) Washing your hands with soap and water regularly
If you feel sick, STAY AT HOME and if you are experiencing symptoms, call the hotline on 080 928 4102 for directions and next steps.
We will only be able to bring this situation under control if everyone takes responsibility now.

IN THE NAME OF MANDELA, WHERE IS MY HOUSE?

This is the desperate cry of Angeline Armoed, the recipient of an official promise of a ‘Mandela Day’ house presented to her in 2019. A promise that to date, has simply come to nothing.
As part of the July 18 Mandela Day celebrations last year, an official letter of commitment for a new home – on an open piece of land on Rooikrans Avenue in Smutsville – was ceremoniously presented to the 58-year-old grandmother by the then Knysna Mayor, Mark Willemse, with numerous other councillors and Municipal officials, including the since suspended Municipal Manager Dr S Vatala, looking on.
Indeed, the news of this amazing gift from the Municipality (in conjunction with a private construction company Nyameko Trading 618CC) made the front page of The EDGE, with photographs of the dignitaries present (hard hats and all!) taking part in the momentous ‘ground breaking’ ceremony.
But now, 15 months later, that same piece of ground remains ‘unbroken’ and is as vacant as it was back then. Angeline is still living in a dilapidated, two-roomed, backyard shack with her two children and five grandchildren.
At the 2019 handover ceremony, she had been described as the ideal person to receive this special gift. Annie Brinkhuis, who held the Human Settlements portfolio on the local Ward Committee, had reported that Angeline had been a ‘backyard dweller’ since her husband died in 2002, and she and her children had 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,” Annie told us at the time, “But somehow her name got shifted off and she lost out.” A spokesperson for Knysna Municipality had said that the family’s vulnerability made them an ideal recipient of this housing opportunity, because the household was exposed to extreme poverty.
Earlier this year, Angeline made some enquiries as to what was happening and why no one had made contact with her about her new home. She was simply told to wait until 30 June as the Municipality was getting funds together. But that date came and went.
When the current Knysna Mayor van Aswegen visited Sedgefield a few weeks later, she tried to approach him outside the Sedgefield Municipal offices to discuss the matter. She felt, however, that he gave her the cold shoulder. “It was like he didn’t want to speak to me,” she said.
Angeline believes that she has been made to look a fool in front of her community.
“There I was, on the front page of The EDGE because I was getting a house at last, but since then nothing has happened.” Now, to make matters worse, she and her family are under extreme pressure to move from their current dwelling, because the owners of that property need the land for their own use.
Ward One Councillor Levael Davis says he is doing everything he can to put right this wrong and to help Angeline and her family’s dream of owning their own home become a reality. “Ms. Armoed has been on the waiting list for more than thirty (30) years. The Human Settlements Department as part of Mandela Day offered to build her a house and I have on numerous occasions tried to get to the root of the delay, but no answer has been forthcoming. It is unacceptable that the promised house has not yet been built. The Municipality must make an urgent plan to ensure that they provide what was promised”.
When asked for feedback, a Knysna Municipal Spokesperson sent the following response.
“There was indeed a previous undertaking by a construction company who volunteered to build the house as part of the Mandela Day Celebrations. Unfortunately, the volunteer company withdrew from the project due to capacity constraints.
“Notwithstanding this unfortunate setback, the Municipality has looked at other scenarios which will now see the construction of the house included in the Sedgefield infill project which is in its planning stage.
“The beneficiary, Mrs Armoed, has been briefed on the reality of the lack of any further commitment by the volunteering company and that the proposed unit will be part of the planned future Sedgefield Infill BNG housing project. The local ward councillor Levael Davis, who has made similar queries about the delays, has also been briefed.
“The above remains the current status of the matter and Mrs Armoed and her family will be given updates when necessary.”

SMUTS UNITED ARE TOPS

Picture: The winning team (from top left ) Corne Melite, Ashley Melite, Jason Keswart, Joswine Rondganger, Alex Grootboom, Deayane Speelman, Gladwill Hartnick, Gladlinn Hartnick, Jeswin Wintwaai, Clinton April, Reginald Geland, Andre Plaatjies, Christiaan Arries, Aswille Van Rooyen, and Nigel Williams (Absent:- Substitutes Nathan Hartnick, and Francois Hartnick.)

Sedgefield’s Smuts United Football Club has been crowned Knysna Local Football Association (KLFA) champions for the 2019/2020 season. This after the association’s Executive Committee decided on 31 October that the team at the top of the log before games were stopped due to the COVID-19 crisis would be declared the winners. Competition is stiff in this domestic league, which sees 16 teams from Knysna, Sedgefield and Rheenendal competing.

With 57 points, Smuts United FC was two points ahead of the Red Eagles squad. Prior to the March lock down our local lads had been enjoying a very successful season – winning 19 of the 21 games they had played, and scoring an admirable 93 goals with only 21 conceded.
“They started this season as a dominant and highly focused team,” says Sam Hartzenberg, Secretary of the team’s very active management committee, “The number of goals scored and the match results were fruits of the hard work and dedication of the entire team.”
He says the whole Smuts United crew are very proud of the role that management, players and supporters played in achieving this.
“We would not have made it this far without the involvement of all parties and the magnificent support we received from Smutsville and the Smuts United football club family,” he told us.

Smuts United FC is under the leadership of Peter Hartnick (Coach) Adam Hartnick (Assistant Coach) and committee members, Johannes Laurens, Denwill Hartnick, President Ben, Winston Carolus, Samuel Hartzenberg, Bulelani Happyboy Mbanya, Moses Salters, Joseph Ruiters, Jethro Van rooyen and Freddie van Rooyen.
Sam says the team will need even more support, as they head into the SAB league play-offs in mid-November 2020. They are hoping to find a benefactor to assist them financially regarding these matches as they will probably all be held in Oudtshoorn.
“Smuts United has to be fanatically fit too,” he says, “Accommodation, food, and transportation has to be covered, so any support will be most appreciated, thank you.”

For more details please contact Bulelani Happyboy Mbanya 078 254 6354 or Samuel Hartzenberg 062 365 7830

PROTECT YOURSELF. PROTECT OTHERS. PROTECT OUR ECONOMY.

Whilst South Africans are relieved to be on level one of the COVID-19 lockdown, urgent calls are being made to remind members of the public not to drop their guard, and to continue taking the necessary precautions (masks, social distancing, hand-sanitising) to minimise the danger of a second wave.
Internationally it seems the battle against this unprecedented pandemic is far from over as we see infections increasing at an alarming rate in the USA, UK and Europe.
Whilst first world countries may have the wherewithal to survive another period of intense lockdown, there’s no denying the devastating effect such an event would have on South Africa’s already embattled economy. Particularly in the Garden Route, where a higher level of lockdown would pretty much turn off the local tourism tap which could have otherwise have meant a busy December season.
Says Western Cape Premier Alan Winde “The golden rules of hygiene remain our best defense against COVID-19. It is important that we all continue to do everything we can to prevent the further spread of the virus. The recent incidents we have experienced in some areas in the province must serve as a caution that we cannot let our guard down. Simple behavioural changes can help us to slow the spread of the virus. Washing your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water, or cleaning them with sanitiser, the correct wearing of a mask and practising social distancing are the best defense we have against the virus until such time as a vaccine is found and made widely available.”
He adds that masks must be worn correctly- covering both the nose and the mouth, emphasising that they must be washed daily and put on and removed with clean hands.
“When you are out in public places or around other people, social distancing remains important. Keep a distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and any other person, and do not frequent places or businesses where large crowds are allowed to gather and where ventilation is poor,” he advises.
“The citizens of this province have been remarkable in helping us to fight this virus, and I understand that there is some Covid fatigue. I however appeal to everyone to continue to fight with us to ensure that we protect ourselves and our loved ones, and allow us all to move forward safely,” the Premier concludes.
As of 1pm, Monday, the Garden Route Municipal area had on record to date 10530 cases of COVID, 9811 of which have recovered. Knysna’s total is 1593 (1524 recovered), and George 3735 (3484 recovered).
Let’s do what we can to keep these numbers as low as possible.

CRAZED MAN LAUNCHES ROCK ATTACK

On Sunday 27 October chaos erupted on the N2 when a seemingly drugged-up man stood in the path of oncoming vehicles and lugged huge rocks at their windscreens.
Whilst the police weren’t able to confirm details at the time of going to press, witnesses say that a young boy who was a passenger in one of the vehicles was badly injured and had to be hospitalised. The perpetrator was arrested on the scene but no news of his court date has been forthcoming.
One of the cars badly damaged was a Hyundai Elantra owned by Ivan Strydom, who was driving the long hall from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth with his wife, mother in law and five-year-old grandson in the passenger seats. When he told us his story a week later he was still counting his blessings that none of his family had been hurt.
It was about 7 pm and they were on the stretch of road between the Botha and Barnard furniture factory and Eagles’ Nest, only three or four kilometres from Sedgefield when he saw a man step onto the road about 100 metres ahead of them.
“I thought he was crossing the road, but then he stopped in the middle. As I got closer, I realised he was holding a huge rock. It was big enough for him to be using both hands to carry it,” he said.
With traffic coming the other way, Ivan was unable to swerve his car. As he braked the rock came crashing through their windscreen and landed between him and his wife in the front seats. Very shaken up, he drove a little further on before pulling the car over to the side of the road, just in front of another vehicle that was already parked there.
Inside this vehicle, a Mazda 2, was a Sedgefield resident (name withheld at her request) who had been driving along the same stretch only a minute or two ahead of the Strydoms when her wheel hit something in the road. Hearing a loud noise she immediately thought she’d had a blowout, and pulled over to the side. When she got out she saw her tyre was indeed flat. She climbed back into her car and locked the doors to consider her next step. Then the Strydom’s car came slowly past and pulled over in front of her.
At first, she was unsure what to do, not knowing who they were – but then, seeing the gaping hole in their windscreen and a middle-aged lady in the front seat, she went over to see what had happened and they exchanged stories. All quickly became convinced that the same man had been responsible for the rock in the road that her Mazda had hit.
“The couple very kindly insisted on staying with me, though I’m sure they could have carried on,” she told us later.
Another car then pulled up. The driver said his vehicle had also just been hit by a rock, fortunately with minimal damage.
As they sat, making frantic calls to the authorities and family members on their cell phones, along came the perpetrator himself. He had dreadlock hair and looked very disheveled as if he had been on the road for some time. His behaviour was erratic, and they were convinced he was under the influence of drugs “Dis EK wat die klippe gooi!” he shouted as he approached them.
Fortunately, the Strydoms had been successful in raising the alarm and it was at that moment that a traffic officer arrived on the scene, closely followed by the two Sedgefield men who had come to help change the Sedgefield lady’s tyre. While the officer made sure the three vehicles were not creating any further danger on the busy road, one of the local men changed the wheel and the other took charge of the perpetrator, instructing him to lie down so that he could not escape. The traffic officer then came over and handcuffed the perpetrator.
Not long after that, two police officers arrived to take the man into custody. Talking to the Strydoms, they explained that they had already attended the same scene earlier that evening after a BMW had been hit by a large rock. Sadly, in that particular incident, a young lad who had been sitting in the passenger seat had been seriously injured and taken to hospital.
Official confirmation of this was not available from SAPS at the time of going to press.
The already exhausted Strydom family followed the police vehicle back to Wilderness Police Station to make a statement and were only able to continue their journey at 10 pm that night – a shattered windscreen further hampering their progress.
Sedgefield’s Community Orientated Policing (COP) had received reports of someone throwing rocks on that particular stretch of road earlier in the evening, prior to these incidents, but after an extensive search which proved fruitless, they had presumed that the person responsible had made off into the bush.

QUICK ACTION LEADS TO ARRESTS

SEDGEFIELD’S CRIME FIGHTING TEAMS WORKING TOGETHER

Quick thinking action by Sedgefield’s security partnerships has led to the apprehension and arrest of two armed robbers, not long after they had held two schoolgirls up at knife-point.

Just before twenty minutes to three in the afternoon of Monday 5 October, Juanita van der Westhuizen – a member of Sedgefield’s Community Orientated Policing (COP) – received a telephonic report about a robbery. She was informed that two high school girls had been dropped off on the N2 after school and were heading back to their homes in Smutsville along Aloe Street when they were approached by the two perpetrators.

The girls reported that the men had walked up to them quite casually and demanded that they hand over their phones and money threatening that if they didn’t, they would be killed. The perpetrators backed up this threat by brandishing knives. When the girls handed over their two phones and fifty Rand the men fled with their bounty in the direction of the N2.
On hearing the report, Juanita immediately alerted COP’s security partners – Phangela, Fidelity ADT and Suiderkruis – as well as the Sedgefield Police. As the search for the two men ensued she scoured the area from her own property situated at an elevated vantage point. Seeing two men who fitted the description she had been given by the girls, she was able to direct operations and eventually guide security vehicles to the perpetrators.
Security personnel swiftly intercepted both men on the N2 as they ran in the direction of Knysna. As they closed in and attempted to make an arrest one of the men pulled out a knife and threatened them. However, this did not deter them from bringing them both down. The perpetrators were duly disarmed and cuffed and, when SAPS arrived minutes later, both were arrested and taken into custody. They had in their possession both the girls’ phones and their money, as well as items of clothing presumed to be intended for ‘quick changes to avoid recognition.

It has since been ascertained that neither of the suspects is resident in the Greater Knysna area.
“This teamwork which resulted in such success once again proves the effectiveness of our COP and emergency services partnership,” commented Michael Simon of COP.

SEDGEFIELDERS ADD VOICE TO ‘MOVE ONE MILLION’ CAMPAIGN.

By Melanie Baumeister
On Saturday, the 5th of September, hundreds of Sedgefielders ignored predictions of inclement weather to gather along the national highway. Their mission – to be part of MOVE ONE MILLION – a global uprising of people standing in solidarity against crime and corruption in South Africa’s government, and the poverty, inequality and other adverse issues that are experienced daily by so many citizens of this nation.
Notwithstanding the seriousness of the issues at hand, the united local community put its usual festive spin on the occasion. The town was certainly not going to go quietly about the business of ‘being heard’, and in true African form there were Dj’s ‘laying down beats’ and some very enthusiastic dancing in the streets – all socially distanced and, for the most part, masked up for COVID.
The crowds were a real mixed bag, from all walks of life and all areas in and around Sedgefield. Standing proud in their black and white t-shirts (produced locally, and sold for no profit), waving their South African flags and displaying their placards proudly – the sense of patriotism was palpable, portraying the undying hope that the community has for a better future.
Under the mosaic heart on the corner at our only traffic lights, it really felt like people were determined to make a difference and bring about change! Especially when local Zumba ladies took to the tar to add some oomph with a performance of the dance craze ‘Jerusalema’.
And as the word had been put out by local organiser, Sonette Jacobs to stay within the law, all the highway traffic could pass through Sedgefield unhindered, and the supportive tooting of hooters and waving at local people lining the streets in their droves was definitely the order of the day. Local law enforcement was no doubt suitably impressed that they didn’t have to get heavy-handed. After all, what we all want is tolerance and peace, and Move One Million might just be the vehicle that’s going to get us there.
As well as the national drive, Move One Million has garnered significant traction amongst South Africans abroad, with expats from 16 other countries taking part, via social media. Many have posted photos from their towns where they are seen with their families proudly holding up the SA flag. The largest recorded gathering outside South Africa was in London, UK where more than 600 people got together for the cause. They and others abroad expressed their solidarity, showing that they still have a vested interest in the future of their home country.
With the founders of the movement steering the wave of resistance to corruption and crime, using all the platforms of social media, their manifesto is simple: ‘We are in a battle for the heart and soul of South Africa. We cannot allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear for one more minute!’
We have been assured that MOVE ONE MILLION is not a fly-by-night group, and that 5 September was just the beginning. Indeed the next peaceful protest has already been set for the 24th of October, and those that can will be on the streets again – making some noise and taking up space, getting noticed for the plight of all of South Africa’s people.
Will Move One Million pave the way for a better future for all South Africans? Perhaps, but only time will tell. In the very least it served to unite an often divided people behind a common and most admirable cause.