WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST!

After a year that has brought extremes of both tragedy and joy to Greater Knysna, it is so good to reach the December season, which brings a much-needed busy time for many, and an equally necessary unwinding time for others.
And let’s face it – with the B&Bs, holiday houses and restaurants full to overflowing, it gives locals even more opportunities to offer that famously warm Garden Route welcome!
As this is our last newspaper of the year, The EDGE team would like to thank all our local readers, writers and advertisers for their wonderful support over this year (and the 19 years preceding it!).
Here’s wishing you all a (take a deep breath now) wonderfully merry, happy, joyous, relaxing, unbeatable, profitable, special, humbling, debt-free, blissful, quiet, lekker, sharp-sharp, raucous, comfortable, action-packed, generous, peaceful, outrageously wild, humorous, pleasurable, fortuitous, blessed, warm, cool, heartfelt, romantic, whacky, cuddly, entertaining, sober, stressless, fun-filled, fancy, amusing, panic-free, hilarious, wondrous, good-willed, colourful, present-filled, tummy-satisfied, Christmas!
By the time you read this we will have (hopefully) put our trusty computers in ‘Sleep’ mode, closed up offices, set the 27 different alarms, fed the snakes (just saying) and scampered off to the beach. We will be back at the media grindstone refreshed and so much more cheerful on the 4th of January to begin work on our first edition of 2018, so remember to send all your news, views, PHEW!s, and Whoo-hoos to info@edgenews.co.za from that date onwards.
May God bless each and every one of you with the warmest and richest of his love!

OUR VERY OWN MISS UNIVERSE!

Monday morning saw locals waking up to the exhilarating news that our ex Sedge Primary head girl, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, had been crowned Miss Universe!
Many stayed up until the wee hours of Monday 27 November to watch TV coverage of the glamourous pageant, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and there was no shortage of tears when the beautiful Miss South Africa was crowned by the 2016 Miss Universe Iris Mittenaere. This ended South Africa’s 39-year wait to claim this prestigious title.
According to reports of the event, Demi impressed the judges with her self confidence and her determined stance on gender equality. When addressing the panel, the twenty two year old raised issues regarding equal pay and conquering one’s fears:
“Women earn 75% of what men earn doing the same thing. I believe in equal pay for equal work. As Miss Universe, you have to be confident in who you are. Miss Universe has to overcome her fears and teach others to do the same. And nothing is ever too much to ask for. That is exactly who I am,” she said.
The moment she claimed the crown was an emotionally-charged celebration for both Demi and the cheering crowd. Clearly, she had won over the audience in Nevada, who erupted when South Africa was declared the winner, leaving Colombia’s Laura Gonzalez, and Jamaica’s Davina Benett to take the runners up positions.
Demi later tweeted “South Africa, thank you for support and love throughout my Miss Universe journey. I may be the new Miss Universe but I will always be your Miss South Africa – we did it!”
We caught up with Demi’s mother, Anne-Marie, later in the day. She and husband Johan were at the pageant in Las Vegas, and understandably still bubbling with excitement.
“It really is a fairytale,” said Anne-Marie, “Our little bare-foot girl from Sedgefield has the universe at her feet!” She told us that shortly after the crowning Demi had been whisked off to New York, where she will be based for the next year.
“We are so proud and grateful – this was Demi’s set goal, and she achieved it!”

RIVER MOUTHS ARE OPEN

After the rain: Swartvlei and Touws River (Wilderness)

Park Manager for the Garden Route National Park, Paddy Gordon has expressed relief that the breaching of Swartvlei and Touw estuaries, which took place on Wednesday 15 November, was so closely aligned to the estuary management plan. He affirmed the significance of keeping the mouth closed until the correct time and level of water measured above mean sea level. Swartvlei was ranked number 7 in South Africa by independent researchers for its biological diversity.

“Managing the system is complex, but the height of the water measured yesterday facilitated the decision made to breach/ open both the Swartvlei and Touws River mouths” he says.

The estuaries were breached subsequent to rainfall yesterday.  The Swartvlei Estuary system was monitored for 24 hours and rainfall was recorded as follows:

  • In Farleigh till 07:00 on the 15th of November 2017 – 48.0 mm
  • Sedgefield – 63.0 mm

Water height before the rain was at 1.74meters above mean sea level. However by 18:00 it was 1.79m rising to 1.8m by 06:30am

  • Touw River’s 24 hour rain measurement at Buffelskop  was 33.0mm at 07.00 and the water level at Ebb & Flow rest camp – 1.99 above mean sea level
  • Goudveld (forest)-54mm of rain measured.
  • Diepwalle (Knysna forest) – 50mm
  • Knysna (Thesen Island jetty)-35mm

Residents from Sedgefield came out in numbers to witness the breaching of the Swartvlei estuary. Channels were reportedly prepared days before and machinery on standby as reported by Jonathan Britton, marine ranger for Wilderness.

Scientist Dr. Ian Russel cautions against opening the mouth too soon as during the open and closed phase there is a unique ecological process that collectively works together to maintain a delicate food web. The estuary mouth will generally close naturally during the low rainfall periods as there is a reduction of the inflow of freshwater.

The closed phase is a time of ‘rest and recovery’ when some interesting and important ecological processes come into play.

(Picture by Mike Wood)

MOUTH TO BE OPEN SOON

From SANParks… The current water levels in Swartvlei are at 1,8m and we’re expecting a high tide at 14:00.

The Swartvlei and Touw River mouths should be successfully breached soon. There are currently machines at the Touw River and Swartvlei estuaries to assist with breaching the estuary mouths.

No further incidents were reported as a result of the rain.

 

NOT-SO-GREAT WHITE EXPERIENCE

Two local kayakers faced a fisherman’s biggest fear early on Sunday Morning when a four-metre Great White got quite serious about having them for breakfast. When the huge shark hit one fishing kayak so viciously the paddler fell into the water, his fishing buddy truly believed a tragic end was looming…

Experienced fishermen Hanno Smit and Dennis Robson launched their fishing kayaks (or skis) from Myoli Beach at about quarter to five in the morning, well before sunrise. Conditions were perfect for paddling.
“The sea was beautiful,” Hanno told us later, “It was flat, glassy smooth, with very little swell and good visibility. Nice and warm too. Perfect”
They had paddled about 1km out to sea before stopping to gear up. Hanno described to us what happened next.
“We opened our hatches and I was just taking my fishing rod out when we heard this sort of deep, loud explosion,” he said. They did a serious double-take when they saw what had caused it. “It was a great white that breached right over Dennis’s kayak and landed right between us!”
He says at first they were just awestruck, not fully understanding what they had just witnessed. Then they started babbling, almost in disbelief.
“What just happened? Can you believe it?”

But 10 seconds later their excited chattering was interrupted as a shark hit, this time from underneath.
“Whether it was the same one or another one, I don’t know,” Hanno told us, “It hit the nose of Dennis’s kayak from underneath with huge force, and took it right up out of the water, throwing old Dennis right out of his ski!” Hanno went on to describe how the shark seemed more interested in the ski than the now frantic Dennis who was desperately trying to get out the water.
“It kind of rolled with the ski. Dennis was trying to clamber back on to it, but all the time the shark was wrestling with the ski and didn’t let go.”
Finally Dennis managed to get back onto the kayak as Hanno bought his own alongside to steady him. Fortunately, as Dennis got on, the Great White released the craft’s nose.
And then they sat next to each other, holding the boats together and bracing themselves for the next attack.
“After about a minute of nothing happening, I noticed that Dennis’s fishing rod was all tangled up with his paddle leash, so he wouldn’t be able to paddle,” recalls Hanno, “So I took out a knife and freed up the ski.”
The two men then started gingerly paddling back towards the shoreline. For the first 200m they kept the kayaks firmly together in the middle, only using the outer blades of their paddles. “It was very tense, we were anticipating another attack at any moment,” said Hanno.
They then started paddling naturally, with their blades hitting the water on both sides of the kayaks, but still keeping the two craft very close together. Hanno said that they both expected another hit every second of the way back to the beach. Fortunately it seems the shark had lost interest.
Once safely on the sand, and after regaining their composure, the two men closely examined Dennis’s ski. They found several shark size tooth marks as well as two shark teeth still stuck in the hull!
Having had time to think about the terrifying incident, Hanno is convinced the great white was looking to feed rather than just being curious. He explains why.
“From underneath it wasn’t sure what we were. That’s why it breached right over us – to see what we were. And when it saw us moving and screaming it saw us as living things. That’s why it immediately came for the kill.”

The hardened fishermen were both shaken up by this experience.
“We were SO lucky to survive,” said Hanno, “Especially old Dennis. It felt like he was in the water forever, and at some stage he must have been touching the shark because I saw black right next to him! Very, very frightening.”
Hanno feels quite strongly that there has been a definite change in Great White behaviour .
“We have been fishing these waters for 13 years, between 15 and 30 times a year, and up until three years ago we hardly knew that there were Great Whites off Myoli. But the last few years we’ve had regular sightings of them, and this last year they’ve been very aggressive. Bumping us, and coming right up to us with almost no fear.”
He is convinced that this is the result of shark cage diving companies ‘chumming’ (enticing the sharks to come closer by throwing food in the water.)
“That’s made the sharks so at ease with humans and craft – the food factor. Because in reality why else would a Great White come up to a boat?” he said.

Picture:- Dennis Robson, safely back on shore and ecstatic to still have all his limbs after being knocked off his fishing kayak by a 4m Great White Shark.

 

DEMI ON THE ROAD TO MISS UNIVERSE

Sedgefield’s darling Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, who was crowned Miss South Africa in March this year, is ready and eager for the 66th Miss Universe Pageant to be held at The Axis in Las Vegas on Sunday, November 26.

Social media was all a-twitter last week, when the national costume was first revealed at her Miss Universe Farewell in Cape Town

Inspired by the protea, this stunning outfit was designed by Malikah Hajee and Lloyd Kandlin and their team at The Costume Department, while Anel Botha has designed a number of other outfits Demi will be wearing, including the finale gown.

Hajee and Kandlin said: “We were approached by the Miss South Africa Organisation’s pageant coach and stylist Werner Wessels to create the Miss South Africa national costume. Wessels had a vision of what he thought would be most effective. We then took his idea a step further and created our version of the South African national flower, the Protea, which is also the official Miss South Africa emblem. We looked at the elements of the flower and colours and recreated it in a costume form.”

More than 80 countries are expected to join the pageant, and should Demi-Leigh win, she will be crowned by Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere.

DEPUTY MAYOR OUT

During a Special Council meeting held this morning (25 October) in Knysna Council Chambers, a Motion of No Confidence against Deputy Mayor Peter Myers was successful, with 11 councilors voting for and ten against.

This motion was proposed by members of his own party, the Democratic Alliance, after weeks of internal headbutting.  The main catalyst of this discontent was the recent signing of the Service Level Agreement between Tourism and the Municipality, a move which Myers was vehemently against and resulted in his storming out of a council meeting, leaving his party colleagues to apologise for his behaviour.

The council meeting of 25 October took a different turn when another vote of no confidence was proposed, this time by ANC Chief Whip Victor Molosi, who suggested that Mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies and Speaker Georlene Wolmarans be removed from office. A vote of 12 to 9 against this motion made sure that it was not carried.

Myers retains his seat as Ward 10 Councillor.

Meanwhile, Knysna Municipal Manager, Kam Chetty, has assured residents that as far as municipal administration is concerned, it will be business as usual.

“I would like to assure residents of Greater Knysna that the removal of the Deputy Mayor will in no way impact on the functionality of the Municipality,” he stated.

He added: “When I took office on 1 July, 2017, the first thing I said was that I am not interested in politics and that my job was to ensure that the administration of the municipality is run well and according to legislation, and that is exactly what we are doing.”

The Municipal Manager explained that a municipal council has various responsibilities. “These include making the laws and policies, providing financial oversight, planning the budget, and hiring the municipal manager. It is further responsible for ensuring that the municipal administration fulfills its duties to the community.

Council has not yet decided on who will fill the position of Deputy Mayor.

“It is important to note that Council is not the only oversight body of local government. The Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) is the Supreme Audit institution (Sai) of South Africa. It is the only institution that, by law, has to audit and report on how the government is spending the South African taxpayers’ money.

“All local government administrators need to answer to both the Council and the AGSA, so rest assured there is competent oversight in place. Residents must not lose sight of the fact that the Knysna Municipality received a clean audit by the AGSA during the last financial year,” concluded Chetty.

COME FLY A KITE

60 kilometres of kite string would stretch from the Eden Kite Festival venue at Eden Lawns in Sedgefield to the Beacon Island Hotel in Plettenberg Bay; 650 square metres of cloth weighing 65kg would cover the Centre Court at Wimbledon almost 5 times; Add 2kms of 2mm thick fibre-glass rods weighing only 13kg, and then you can start preparing to break a record…
Cutting and sewing the cloth into 2 000 kite skins and adding two fibreglass rods per kite took three people 22 days of full-time work. Screen-printing the 2000 kites took two people 20 days. Winding the 60 kilometres of line onto 2000 handles, hand-cut from correx board, took four people 16 days of full-time work.
That is what has gone into producing the kites for the Sotheby’s Africa Record Attempt at the 3rd Eden Kite Festival! Our goal is to get as many of those 2000 kites into the air simultaneously. For this we need 2 000 kite fliers – including you!
The kites are for sale at tremendously reduced prices at the festival as well as beforehand at Sotheby’s offices, Knysna Tourism in Knysna and Sedgefield, and at the Scarab, Wild Oats and The Heath (Harkerville) markets. Those places are also where you can buy your entrance tickets for the Kite Festival on 22nd October (not to mention the pre-festival Wendy Oldfield & Leroy Botha concert at the Octopus Garden at Scarab Market on the evening of 21st October.)
The Executive Mayor of Knysna, Councillor Eleanore Bouw-Spies will open both events and you can also meet professional kiters from South Africa, Poland, England and the Netherlands.
Tickets for the festival are R20 for adults and R10 for under-12s. And the kites – worth R95 – are only R35 each. Payments can be made by EFT or ‘Zapper’ before the event, or in cash at the gate. The advantage of buying your entry tickets beforehand is that you get to use the Express entry at the festival and miss the queue to get in.
Tickets for the Wendy Oldfield concert are R100 each, and going fast!
The 3rd Eden Kite Festival is sponsored by Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty of Knysna, Sedgefield, Mossel Bay and Stilbaai, and is in aid of Masithandane’s Bursary Fund, which keeps children in school by providing transport and essentials such as feminine hygiene products and stationery. There is no high school in Sedgefield and no public transport is available to get learners to the nearest schools.

WISHING OUR MATRICS ALL THE BEST

As the academic year draws to an end, ‘Matric farewell’ season is upon us. The Grade 12s are all donning their glad rags and heading off to booked venues to celebrate the end of their schooling careers in as much style as they can muster.

And from then on life gets serious for them. With exams beginning later this month, many parents will be hoping that most of the matric-writers’ studying has been done, and only last minute reviews are necessary. Strength to all – matriculants AND their parents.

The three stunning young ladies pictured here are (would you believe?) the Heunis triplets, Angelique, Amoré and Annika, who are off to their matric farewell at Outeniqua High. Many will surely agree that time must have seriously whizzed by since the announcement of their birth in 1999. Like their elder sister Elani, the girls attended Sedgefield Primary and Outeniqua High School.

Proud parents Johan and Elaine say that the three sisters will be taking a ‘gap year’, or two, whilst they decide what they want to study.

ONE WEEK, TWO FIRES, 31 HOMES DESTROYED

With the wounds of the Knysna fires still raw, Sedgefield has faced two more blazes in less than a week, with a total of 31 homes being destroyed and an estimated 100 or more people losing most of their worldly belongings.
The first fire ravaged through Smutsville’s Beverley Hills in the early hours of Friday 8 September. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but seven informal homes were destroyed. The cause is, as yet, unknown.
The following Thursday, just before 3am, another started. This time in the area known as ‘Slange Park’ on the Eastern side of Smutsville. A high density area, packed with informal structures less than a metre apart, was quickly engulfed in the fast-moving inferno.
There’s no doubt people were sleeping lightly, as miraculously no serious injuries have been reported.
One victim, Vuyisile Pauli, said he was fast asleep when his girlfriend Zowa Bevu fortunately heard the crackling flames. She immediately woke him and they both rushed to the window. The house four doors down from them was already in flames so they grabbed what they could and rushed outside.
“We went to help, but the flames were just too hot, and we had to get away,” Pauli said later.
Asked if he knew anything about the cause, he said that he had spoken to the man who had been sleeping in the first house that had burned. “There’s no proof, but from what he saw when he woke up, he suspects someone set it alight,” Pauli suggested.
The residents were grateful that the fire brigade arrived to tackle the blaze and prevent it spreading further, but it was just too late for the 24 homes that had been razed to the ground.
We contacted the Municipality for feedback regarding the fires and the councillor for that ward, Levael Davis, who is also the Mayoral Committee Member for Technical Services, said that he had been devastated to hear about the fires and that his heart goes out to those who had lost so much.
As far as support for the victims goes, he responded as follows: “Although the fire victims were offered temporary accommodation at the Sedgefield Community Hall, they preferred to stay with friends and family. A contractor is currently on the Beverley Hills site assisting residents with rebuilding their structures.
“Currently building material is being delivered and people in this community have agreed to rebuild their destroyed homes themselves. The municipality has also provided the affected with clothing.
“A big thank you to Ward 1 Committee Members for coordinating the assistance needed by the victims and also for going the extra mile. I also would like to extend my gratitude to Rebuild Eden Sedgefield for providing food and to all other NGOs that assisted.
“Thank you to the Sedgefield Community at large for once again standing together, supporting and assisting those affected by this tragedy.”