There’s no doubt that our restaurants and coffee shops are amongst the businesses hardest hit by the tight Level 4 lock-down regulations, what with no patron seating allowed and no alcoholic drinks to be sold, they have to rely purely on take-aways.

Fortunately, the kind-hearted Sedgefield community has embarked on a social media drive, calling everyone to support their favourite eateries whenever possible – just to make sure they are still in business when the lock-down is lifted.

Go on! Whether it’s a simple cup of coffee to go, or a delicious three-course evening meal delivered to your front door, there is a wide range of affordable choices in Sedgefield, tasty enough to tantalise any take-away palate.

Residents aged 60 years and over are urged to have their COVID-19 vaccination after making sure they are registered on the Government Portal vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za. Various vaccination points are open around Knysna, with the Sedgefield Clinic administering doses this week on Wednesday 30 June, Thursday 1 July and Friday 1 July, and next week on Monday 5 July, Thursday 8 July and Friday 9 July. They will be accepting 50 appointment vaccinations and 50 walk-ins each day.
“The rate of infection is increasing dramatically in Greater Knysna,” said Acting Municipal Manager Dawid Adonis. “Where we had zero recorded active cases just a few short weeks ago, 165 active cases had been recorded by Thursday 24 June. Only three days later, this number had jumped to 211 active cases by Sunday 27 June.”
The Department of Health recorded a spike of 60 new infections in Knysna from 21 to 24 June. “Knysna recorded 27 new active cases in less than 24-hours between Wednesday and Thursday last week alone,” said Adonis. “This sudden jump is a frightening indicator of what may lie ahead of us if we do not act now and strictly adhere to the newly imposed amended Level 4 lockdown regulations.”
“We have gone beyond asking our residents to stay safe,” said Adonis. “We are now pleading with you to do all you can to curb the spread of this deadly virus. Please, do not wait to be placed under Level 5 of lockdown again, stay away from gatherings – even attending a book club or stokvel meeting during this time could prove dangerous or deadly and is prohibited.”
Public halls and sports facilities will be closed, and no more than 50 people are allowed to attend a funeral or cemetery at the same time. Beaches and parks are still open, but no gatherings will be allowed at either. “At a district level, we will ask the SAPS to assist us in enforcing these public protocols if necessary,” Adonis confirmed. “Museums and libraries are closed to patrons, but those who require assistance in registering for their vaccines may still visit any of our libraries to do so.”
“All essential services will be rendered. However, certain municipal buildings are closed to the public unless per prior appointment. The banking hall of the customer care centre remains open for the time being,” he continued. “We are also implementing more stringent internal prevention measures. All Council and administrative meetings will take place virtually, and we will ensure that our staff adhere to internal regulations and safety measures.”
“Please register to receive your vaccine as soon as you can and be sure to attend your appointment at the specified location, on the specified day, in the appointed time slot,” Adonis concluded. “We all knew that this pandemic would be with us for the foreseeable future, and we all knew that we would have to change our behaviour to keep ourselves, others and our economy safe. Please act responsibly and help us to keep Knysna inclusive, innovative, inspired and safe.” As of 1 July people 50 years and older may register for the Covid vaccine on vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za.

The Swartvlei flamingos frolicking in the lagoon – captured by the lens of Sedgefield photographer André Victor.

The Swartvlei Lagoon is currently enjoying some exotic visitors in the form of a small flock of immature flamingos. The members of this juvenile group of specialist feeders have huddled together to kick up the soft silt of Swartvlei and scoop up the generous servings of crustaceans – sitting at just the right water level for their specific needs.
This activity is referred to as ‘agitation feeding’. The renegade flock (teenagers do like to explore) may hail from any number of larger groups of the species. None of them are being officially tracked and traced, but they could come from the West, Mossel Bay, the East, Paradise Beach (Jeffrey’s Bay) or even Kimberley in the Northern Cape. According to a local ornithologist, Mark Dixon, it’s not outlandish to think that they could fly overnight from The Big Hole, feast all day, fly back, gather up more of their family and pop down again for another day of good eating. The juvenile flamingos are paler than their fully-fledged adult counterparts and will take on the attractive pink hue as they mature and imbibe more beta carotene through their diets. As the salinity stabilizes in Swartvlei, now that the river mouth has been breached, they will soon move on to search for the tasty morsels that they enjoy so much. Nature is amazing and ever-changing, and those of us who live in Sedgefield have front-row seats!

Even as the third wave of COVID-19 is rearing its ugly head and President Ramaphosa has put the country on Alert Level 3, plans are in place for the roll-out of the vaccination program. This Thursday 150 Sedgefield residents should be getting their first shot at the local clinic.
The much-publicised destroying of two million of South Africa’s Johnson and Johnson vaccines after it was discovered that they had been accidentally contaminated in America has certainly slowed things down, and locally it seems that there aren’t huge numbers of vaccines available.
At the time of going to press, the Sedgefield Clinic is set to start vaccinating on Thursday 17 June – but only 150 doses have been received. Residents who are 60 years old and over who have registered online on the Government EVDS portal are asked to look out for an SMS message informing them of the time they should report to the clinic. There have also been reports of a two queue system to be implemented to accommodate walk-ins.
Meanwhile, in a proactive move to assist with the vaccination roll-out process, Sedgefield Pharmacy has registered to be a dispenser of the vaccine and hopes to begin vaccinating at the end of the month, depending on the arrival of the vaccines themselves.
“Unfortunately, legislation from the Department of Health stipulates that private pharmacies may only dispense the vaccination to those who have some form of medical aid or hospital plan,” explains Pharmacy Manager Stuart Daniell, “But that will include a lot of local people, and so hopefully take some pressure of the government clinic.”
Stuart says the Pharmacy wants to make the process as easy as possible and ensure that as many Sedgefield residents as possible can be vaccinated.
“Most locals will be on our database already, so we will have all their details and be able to set up appointments for them to have their vaccine and notify them accordingly. They still have to be registered on the EVDS system, but even that we can check for them and handle everything from there on,” he told us. He pointed out that anyone sixty and over who is worried that they may not be on the Pharmacy’s records may send their name and ID number to their dedicated WhatsApp line 079 483 1949.
“Please don’t call,” he asked, “We are already overwhelmed with telephonic enquiries about the vaccine.”
For the actual vaccination process, they have been given the use of the NG Church Hall, and a number of volunteer administrators and seven qualified nurses trained in the vaccination process will be stepping in to make the experience as seamless as possible, whilst keeping COVID protocols in place.
Stuart explained that the Government has declared the vaccine a ‘Prescribed Minimum Benefit’ of all medical aids and hospital plans, so no individual will have to pay for it.
“With the hold up on the J&J vaccines, we will most probably be using the Pfizer brand,” he reported, adding that this means two shots, approximately 42 days apart, will be necessary. “Once again, this is something we can handle. So we can notify each person when they are due for their second vaccination,” he said.
The local pharmacist did point out that some Sedgefield residents may meanwhile receive an SMS notification from the EVDS system telling them to report to a government medical facility to get their vaccine. “If it’s before we are ready to roll-out, and they would like to be vaccinated sooner, rather than later, then they should definitely go and have it done,” he said, “The plan is simply to get Sedgefield’s 60+ residents vaccinated in as short a time as possible.”
Stuart also confirmed that the pharmacy would have to stick to the phased roll-out prescribed by the Government with regards to age. In other words, during the current phase, only those sixty and over will be able to get vaccinated. When the Government announces the next phase of the roll-out, those under 60 may register themselves.

This wonderful picture was taken by our local ‘Travelbug’ – Rose Bilbrough.

According to the late legendary whale and dolphin researcher, Professor Peter Best, the “Northern migration of Humpback whales seems to reach the African coastline in the vicinity of Knysna”.
Hence, it is obvious that we live in the perfect place to start celebrating the welcome arrival of these magnificent creatures.

Read more about Knysna’s part in the SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE HUMPBACK MIGRATION ROUTE on page 5 in our latest edition (issue 616).

(PICTURE: An early responder attempts to fight the blaze that destroyed four homes. Taken by Pearl Kimmel)

The sounds of sirens going up Makou Street is something that sends chills down most Sedgefielders’ spines because every local knows that with the wrong wind conditions a fire in the informal area could result in catastrophe.

On Monday evening, four families living in ‘Die Gaatjie’, just off Bitou Street, lost their homes and many of their possessions, as sometime between 8.30 and 9pm a blaze engulfed their informal wooden structures. The boom of gas bottles exploding echoed through Smutsville, and the terror-stricken cries of people scrambling to evacuate their homes were heard by folks living close to the terrible scene.

The fire was miraculously contained before it could spread further – this thanks to the quick reaction of residents and the swift arrival of fire trucks, as well as others who rushed to the scene to assist. Their combined efforts in stopping the spread of the blaze surely saved many lives, especially considering the warm weather conditions experienced on Monday.

Also miraculous was the fact that no injuries were reported.

Mike Hofhuis of COP, whose members were called to the scene to provide backup should the firefighters need assistance, said it certainly was a job well done by the Fire Department. Stopping the flames leaping the narrow gaps between the hundreds of homes clustered together had been of paramount importance in avoiding a major disaster.

The Smutsville Community Hall was opened to provide safe shelter for the fire victims, and various humanitarian groups are collecting goods to assist them to rebuild their lives.

Donations of household goods, clothes and food may be dropped at Masithandane. (044 343 2110)

Residents of Greater Knysna are asking some very serious questions about due diligence, or the lack thereof, in the recruitment process for top positions at Knysna Municipality. This after Lindile Petuna, the current Acting Director Integrated Human Settlements has once again made headlines – and not in a good way.
The Port Elizabeth High Court has ordered Petuna to pay back an amount of R11.3 million to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality after it was found that the authority had overpaid for a property in 2015 on his recommendation when he was that municipality’s Executive Director of Human Settlements.
According to a press statement from Nelson Mandela Bay, Petuna had recommended that the council approve the purchase of portion 10 of the farm Seaview 28, Clarendon Marine, for R14.3m to develop low-cost housing. Petuna also withheld critical information from the Executive Mayor and the Municipal Council regarding the market value (R3 million) of the land and the findings of a feasibility study, obtained two years earlier by his own department.
Petuna’s name was also in the headlines in October last year, when he was ordered to pay more than R550 000 for misleading the same municipality regarding rezoning applications. The more recent judgement is asking the Knysna employee to fork out twenty times that amount.
“In the latest case,” the Mandela Bay press statement reported, “Petuna stated that he cannot be held accountable as he is not a current municipal official and that he acted on reports by the Department of Human Settlements. He left the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality after a settlement agreement with the institution in November 2015.”
In both cases, Petuna was ordered to pay the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s legal costs with interest.
The Knysna Ratepayers Association (KRA) is incensed with the Knysna authorities.
“This is the second judgment from the Eastern Cape High Court in which Mr Petuna, the Human Settlements Manager for Knysna Municipality and a member of the Knysna Municipal Planning Tribunal, has been ordered to pay back money to his previous employer, the Nelson Mandela Metro,” they said in a statement.
The KRA was first alerted to the allegations against Petuna at the end of August 2019, when DA Member of Parliament Dion George issued a press release in which he alleged that Petuna had been accused of misleading or attempting to mislead the Nelson Mandela Bay Council on 133 separate occasions, after which he resigned at a disciplinary hearing.
“Mr George called on the Knysna Mayor and the ANC to review the appointment.” the KRA statement continues.
The KRA said that Dion George’s press release was issued on the day after the Knysna Council, including the DA Councillors, had unanimously appointed Mr Petuna to the Knysna Municipal Planning Tribunal.
Further surprise for the association came in May 2020 when Petuna was again appointed to the Tribunal, once again with the support of both the DA and ANC Councillors.
“The KRA was extremely concerned about the allegations, and when Mr Petuna was reappointed to the Tribunal we requested information from Knysna Municipality to determine whether they were aware of the very serious allegations against Mr Petuna when he was appointed Housing Manager in 2019 and whether the Acting Municipal Manager made enquiries of the Metro in 2020 before Petuna was reappointed to the Tribunal. To date, we have not yet received a satisfactory response from Knysna Municipality.” The statement reads.
“In October 2020 we read in the press that Mr Petuna had been ordered by the High Court to pay R550,000.00 after he had wrongfully advised the Metro to rezone land for the development of a luxury hotel and chapel. Petuna’s recommendation cost the Metro hundreds of thousands of rand in legal fees, as it had to approach the Court to set aside and rectify the unlawful approvals.
“We are dismayed that Knysna Municipality apparently has no interest whatsoever in the two High Court judgments. This does not bode well for those of us who expect our Municipality to act with due diligence when appointing officials and may lead to an erosion of confidence in the Planning Tribunal.
”Knysna Municipality should wake up and follow the example of the Nelson Mandela Metro and create a culture of accountability.”
In the meantime, KRA intends to take further steps to obtain a response to their questions relating to Mr. Petuna “In light of the new judgment, we shall be submitting further requests to the Municipality, including questions relating to the purchase of land during Mr Petuna’s tenure.”The statement concluded
But Petuna’s appointment is not the only one that has raised ‘due diligence’ concerns. Knysna’s current Municipal Manager – Dr Sinetemba Vatala – is still on full pay over a year after his suspension in Feb 2020. Dr Vatala was employed by Council in March 2019, despite news reports of disciplinary hearings and suspensions at his previous position as MM of Emalahleni Municipality in the Eastern Cape. Since his court case is ongoing, he is still officially the MM, so Knysna Municipality may not fill the position and has thus had to pay the salaries of a string of acting Municipal Managers whilst the case against Vatala takes its course. Dr Vatala’s case is set to continue on 22 April.
Asked for comment, a spokesperson for Knysna Municipality said
“Kindly be advised that the High Court judgment has no bearing on the Knysna Municipality. With regards to the statements made by the Knysna Ratepayers Association, their assertion that we have not responded is not factually correct. In response to their claims in another local newspaper, the Municipality issued a full statement on 2 September 2019 confirming that Mr Petuna’s appointment was in line with proper procedures.”

Picture:  Knysna Station Commander Colonel De Wet is in the hot seat – As the community battles with habitual criminals, could he be the solution we have been waiting for?

The new SAPS Knysna Station Commander Colonel Francois De Wet, who took up the position on the 1st of March this year, cuts a dynamic figure and seems determined to make a difference in his new hometown. Whilst ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’, there are hopes that he might be the leader to take the local force to a higher level of service.
An invitation to local media to meet the commander felt like a step in the right direction, as did the Colonel’s no-nonsense attitude towards the challenges on his plate. He first promised to work alongside all existing structures – both formal and voluntary.
“It is imperative that SAPS works with the community, and interacting with local structures is key to this,” he reasoned. He then spoke about the prime importance of having an ear to the ground so that potential conflict can be avoided with early dialogue.
Colonel De Wet left no doubt as to his long-term mission – to put SAPS in its rightful place as the leading agency in the battle against crime in Greater Knysna. Initiating a more coordinated use of resources for the six sectors under his command, along with an all-round ethos of transparency in SAPS should go a long way towards this, he said.
Sedgefield’s volunteer crime-fighting groups have already engaged with the Colonel through the Community Police Forum, and Sedgefield representative Mike Hofhuis felt encouraged by the positive exchange. Indeed, though Sedgefield is currently experiencing break-ins on an almost nightly basis, he believes locals should not lose hope.
“The Community Police Forum addressed several pertinent issues relating to Sector 6 – Sedgefield and Smutsville – with Colonel De Wet,” Hofhuis told us, “We strongly believe that he will address these issues and, furthermore, we ask residents to please be patient a while longer so that the Colonel can address our concerns along with those of other Greater Knysna Sectors. As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day.”
At the media meeting, when the Colonel was asked about the level of service delivery of the Knysna police force, he said that it is an all-important factor, and he would like to empower members of the public to point out instances where they feel SAPS has dropped the ball. To this end urgent service delivery issues may be reported to the shift commander on duty on 082 379 3411 – even if it is after hours. Normal crime reports, however, should be reported using the normal contact number of 044 302 6677.
When questioned about the ongoing frustration of perpetrators being arrested, taken into custody, and then released back into the community only days later, De Wet admitted that there are challenges regarding the follow-through of arrests. He will be engaging with the Justice Department to find a positive solution, and once this has been finalised the two offices will issue a joint statement.
Regarding the all-too-regular N2 protests, one of which landed on the Colonel’s plate within three days of his starting at Knysna, he said the experience he had gained in other towns had been that a hands-on, preventative approach often stopped such unrest from escalating.
“Community engagement is key and we would like to set up a mediation team to be more proactive in dealing with protest action that affects our service to the community,” he said.
Colonel De Wet warned that on his quest for effective policing in Knysna he might sometimes lock heads when initiating moves others might not be comfortable with.
“Sometimes we have to make unpopular decisions – that’s part of the job,” he smiled.
The 55-year-old Colonel does have an impressive CV. He originally joined SAPS on 26 June 1986, attending his basic training at the Pretoria Police Training Academy before his placement in Cape Town. Later, during his career in police management, he was deployed at various police stations in the Overberg. While holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel he acted as Station Commander for Hermanus and Kleinmond where he gained experience in working with external role players. During 2016 he was transferred to the Visible Policing Component at the Overberg Cluster where he worked until his recent promotion to the rank of Colonel at the Knysna SAPS.
As well as attending numerous internal courses within the police service during these three and a half decades, he has also studied for and passed a National Diploma in police administration and a Baccalaureus Technologiae: Policing.
Married with two sons, the Station Commander is happy that his family has relocated with him to Knysna.

 

Picture:- Newly vaccinated Sedgefield Clinic staff are ready to continue their fight against the COVID-19 virus for another 365 days if necessary.
From L-R: Sr Kombrinck, Maggie Prinsloo, Lynette Van Wyk, Sr Dorinda Zondag, Sheila Manyandela, Petro Koen, and in front, Nita Allsopp

by Melanie Baumeister
As the country slowly rolls out the vaccines against Covid19 for health care workers, Sedgefield has not been left behind. As a hotspot for the virus during the second wave it was with great relief that seven of the local clinic workers have been recipients of Johnson & Johnson vaccinations provided by the government.

The first to receive the jab are the high-risk workers and COVID testers. The vaccine is being monitored and the trial rollout will hopefully provide a foolproof blueprint for the next level of recipients to receive the inoculation sooner rather than later.
On 23 March last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that there would be a nationwide lock-down from midnight 26 March, in an attempt to combat the spread of the Corona Virus. At the time this eery new concept of disease control was only set to last 21 days, but of course, this was not to be.

The horrific roller-coaster ride that South Africa, and indeed the world, has been on since then will surely never be forgotten, and though we are currently on one of the more comfortable lock-down levels it is still very important to keep focused on delaying another wave for as long as possible, as the government (hopefully) gets on top of the vaccine rollout.

Senior researcher at CSIR, Dr Ridhwaan Suliman, says that the number of new Covid-19 cases in South Africa is increasing by 2% week-on-week, but this is due to small spikes in specific areas. Thankfully, at the moment the Western Cape is still seeing a very slight decline in numbers.
Looking back on how the last 365 days have affected our family lives, our economy, and of course remembering those who have perished during this pandemic, it would be good to take stock of what is important, and to each do our bit to slow the Corona spread.

When upliftment of the youth is the buzz phrase, and many are talking the talk with regard to ‘keeping the youngsters off the streets’, it is such great news when this becomes a reality – particularly one that is so very cool!
Quietly passing on his passion for his favourite sport is Slade West, the six-foot-plus surfer who has been shredding local waves since he was knee-high to a sea-slug. For years Slade has been running the Slow Town Surf Development Squad, teaching Smutsville’s youngsters to bravely take on the thrills and spills of a sport they previously wouldn’t have dreamed of learning.
Last weekend three of his young surfers were selected to represent the SWD District in a national surfing competition in Cape Town. In the picture is Chandler Koetzee who will be heading to the event along with club mates Jureldo and Sumien Armoed.
(See back page https://www.edgenews.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Issue_610.pdf for full story)