76-YR-OLD MAN MURDERED, TWO SUSPECTS ARRESTED

A resident of Paul Kruger Street in Sedgefield’s normally quiet Island suburb was found murdered on Monday night. SAPS have since identified the victim as Peter Henson. His body was discovered by a member of Community Orientated Policing (COP).

The COP member had been returning home from another call-out when he saw Henson’s dog running around on the streets. Having previously been to Henson’s house, he recognised the animal so picked it up to return it to its owner. He was concerned as Henson was known by various security organisations as being ‘high risk’ due to his ‘open door’ policy when it came to giving visitors access to his home, day and night.

On entering the property at approximately 22H00 the COP member found the house open with no sign of forced entry. The body of the victim was lying on the floor. The 76-year-old man’s hands had been tied behind his back and a gag cloth in his mouth was held in place with the same rope.
SAPS were alerted as well as other members of COP and the local neighbourhood watch. According to SAPS, preliminary investigations revealed that the perpetrators had fled with a number of Henson’s personal belongings, which included a DSTV decoder, a knife and his personal diary.

Further investigation yielded positive results when two suspects were arrested within hours of the crime being committed.

Information received led SAPS detectives to a residence in Smutsville, where they recovered the stolen items and subsequently arrested two men in their late-twenties.

The suspects are scheduled to appear in the Knysna Magistrates’ court later this week, facing charges of both murder and theft. An autopsy will be performed on the body of the deceased to determine the cause of death.

WHAT’S GOING ON?

Political confusion continues to reign (or should that be ‘rain’?) over Knysna Municipality, with fingers pointing in all directions, accusations made left, right and centre, and all of this within one party. In this edition we cover two of the most recent instances in which it seems that Knysna’s ruling party – the Democratic Alliance – is turning on itself.

Yesterday, a complaint of ‘breach of conduct’ was launched against the Knysna caucus of the Democratic Alliance by the Knysna Ratepayers Association.
It seems that the story started on 29 August when, at a council meeting it was recommended to Council that Mr. Lindile Petuna, who started his employ at Knysna Municipality on 1 August 2019 as the Manager, Integrated Human Settlements, be appointed as an internal member of the Knysna Municipal Planning Tribunal (“KMPT”). With no concerns raised at the time, he was duly appointed by a unanimous vote.
However, the following day, Dr Dion George MP, who is the DA Constituency Head for Knysna, issued the following press statement.
“The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Knysna is concerned to learn of the appointment of Lindile Petuna as the Human Settlements Manager for the Knysna Municipality.
Petuna, who also features prominently in Crispian Olver’s book, How to Steal a City, has been accused of misleading or attempting to mislead the Nelson Mandela Bay Council on 133 separate occasions after which he resigned at his disciplinary hearing.
We are calling on Mayor Mark Willemse and his ANC counterparts, to urgently review this appointment in light of this deeply concerning information.
Given Mr Petuna’s track record, the DA does not believe that he will execute his official duties in the best interest of the people of Knysna.
Providing residents with the dignity of a home, cannot be degraded by officials who are facing charges of misconduct and corruption.
We will monitor the situation carefully and continue to put pressure on the Mayor and his executive, to put the interests of Knysna ahead of dodgy appointments.
The DA will fight to hold this municipality accountable to the people.”

DA Mayor Mark Willemse was one of the first to respond to Dr George’s public accusation.

“As the Executive Mayor of the Knysna Municipality, I am not responsible or involved in any staff appointments to the administration. Mr Petuna is a Manager who is appointed through the normal Human Resources procedures.
The role of councillors is merely one of oversight to ensure all the correct processes are adhered to. Mr Petuna’s appointment to the Knysna Municipal Planning Tribunal on 29 August 2019 was a unanimous Council decision without any concerns raised at the time.
If Dr George or anyone else has information relevant to the person so appointed, they should have alerted Council to the information before the Council decision was made. I urge them to report the information to the Office of the Municipal Manager, Dr Vatala, as soon as possible. Dr Vatala is the final authority on the appointment of staff to the administration. Council only has the authority to appoint Municipal Managers and Directors as per legislation.”

Meanwhile the Knysna Ratepayers Association, presumably believing that at least some members of the DA Caucus had been aware of their constituent head’s misgivings about Petuna, composed a complaint which they presented to the Council Speaker.
Referring to Dr George’s press release, their complaint stated in part:
“The allegations (in the release) against Mr Petuna are of a very serious nature and we are mindful of the fact that Mr Petuna has not been found guilty (he allegedly resigned before the disciplinary hearing had been completed). However, if the allegations, which include alleged unlawful planning decisions, are proven to be accurate, it would certainly result in Mr Petuna being considered unfit to serve on the KMPT. 
The KMPT is a quasi-judicial body and its members must be of unquestionable integrity.
Considering the request in the press release from the DA that the appointment should be urgently reviewed, we would have expected the DA Caucus to be strongly opposed to the appointment of the manager in question to the Knysna Municipal Planning Tribunal .”
The complaint to the Speaker asks that each and every member of the DA Caucus explain how he or she could support this appointment to the tribunal.
“We call on you to initiate an investigation in terms of section 14(1) of the Code of Conduct into each and every member of the DA Caucus to determine whether they have breached the said Code,” it reads.

Then, on the afternoon of Tuesday 3 September, the Knysna Municipality released the following press release:-
NEW HOUSING OFFICIAL APPOINTMENT IN LINE WITH PROPER PROCEDURE.
According to Knysna Municipal Manager Dr Sitembele Vatala, Lindile Petuna is the most suitable candidate for the position of Manager: Human Settlements. “A qualified and registered town planner, Mr Petuna performed exceptionally well during the Municipality’s vigorous recruitment and selection process which included a written assessment, interview session and screening.”
Dr Vatala’s validation of this appointment follows a recent press statement issued by Mr Dion George of the Democratic Alliance on this subject. “The Executive Mayor and councillors are only involved in the appointment of the Municipal Manager. The appointment of other staff members is the responsibility of the Municipal Manager, who is the Municipality’s Accounting Officer. This is stipulated in Section 66 of the Municipal Systems Act, Number 32 of 2000,” explained Vatala.
“A seasoned politician like Mr George should be aware of this. If he harboured reservations about any new appointment, he should have written to me in my capacity as Accounting Officer. I find it regrettable that he chose to bring the Municipality into disrepute through a politically motivated press statement,” Vatala said.
“The DA unanimously supported the appointment of Mr Petuna to the Knysna Municipal Planning Tribunal (KMPT) at the Council Meeting of 29 August 2019, one day before Mr George’s statement was issued. Were the allegations made by Mr George merited, the DA Councillors should have brought these to the attention of the full Council and KMPT.”
“The Municipality stands by its decision to appoint Mr Petuna, based on his proven experience, capability and track record,” Vatala concluded.

OVER R100 000 FOR LOCAL CHARITY

It has been said before that the run of Sedgefield’s Melodrama is a ‘win-win-win’ situation, but it is surely worth saying again!

Why? Because not only do local audiences get an evening of side-splitting entertainment, watching all the often-familiar faces of locals making outlandish fools of themselves (and more) on stage, but Sedgefield charities get a HUGE donation to bolster their coffers, AND the cast and crew have two months of fun and frivolity with friends old and new.

This year’s five performances have once again brought Sedgefield’s well-known generosity to the fore, with R68 000 worth of tickets sold (extra tables had to be added in on the last two nights) and R43 000 raised in the post-show ‘American auctions’. The 36-strong team may now surely relax, put their feet up, take a well-earned rest …. and start thinking about acts for next year’s show!

“Thanks to everyone for the fantastic support of the 2019 Melodrama!” says Producer Margie van Rensburg.

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!