Fire hazard ignored by disaster management planners

Did the Fire Hazard ‘Experts’ not notice?

Yesterday evening a talk at St Francis Links by experienced firefighter Pete Buist, a 43 year veteran as a Forester and Wildland (Bush) Fire Fighter with the Alaskan Division of Forestry who still does contract fire management work during the summer season in various parts of the United States, Canada and Mexico, made mention of bush cuttings being left to lie at roadside in many parts of St Francis he has noticed during his short time on holiday in our village. During his very informative talk he stressed this as one of the many major hazards that create opportunity for fires to gain momentum and make the lives of those fighting the fires job all the more difficult.

bush left roadside in Cape St Francis

But here’s the rub….

Various interest groups from around Kouga met at Cape St Francis Resort last Friday to no doubt continue formulating a disaster management plan for the area as well as another show of the ANC’s power base as discussed in yesterday’s column ‘Blue lights descend on St Francis’. No word yet on any progress with regard to a plan but it is extremely concerning that with so many ‘experts’ busy discussing matters of fire and disaster, not one of these experts noticed a potential disaster waiting to happen. Openly visible for all to see on the verges of Da Gama Road on the way to the resort it would take either a blind person or someone ignorant of what constitutes potential danger, not to notice the threat.
Cut bush left on Da Gama Road Cape St FrancisPiles of cut brush have been left on the verges for several weeks to really dry out and must by now make perfect kindling for a fire to take hold and flourish. Should this happen there can be little doubt that such a fire would endanger more than a few houses that verge onto Da Gama. The past few days have been almost windless but the wind is sure to return soon and it one of these brush piles were to ignite, alas some areas of Cape St Francis, St Francis Bay and Santareme that escaped the January devastation would  face the prospect of possibly losing their homes, or worse a life.

It seems unlikely that the brush was dumped by individual homeowners for there simply are too many piles alongside the road to be the work of an individual or individuals. Some weeks ago workers who appeared to part of a municipal workforce, or certainly working for a company employed by the municipality to clear the brush, was seen to be clearing bush on the roadside in the area so it seems likely it is they who have left the piles on the roadside rather than finishing the job by carting it away.

It seems inconceivable that not one of this brigade of ‘qualified’ people being entrusted with planning how future disasters will be handled or prevented have not paid the slightest attention to a hazard so obvious. Surely they should have alerted authorities and a team should have been dispatched immediately to remove a conceivable danger and prevent a possible disaster.

And what of the authorities? The person responsible for managing the bush clearing should be suspended (without pay) pending an investigation as to why the drying brush was not been cleared immediately. A dereliction of duty that thankfully up until time of posting this article had not resulted in a major catastrophe but that is not to say it won’t unless something is done with all haste.

Da Gama Road in Cape St Francis has been highlighted in this article simply because it surely should have been noticed by those in charge of disaster management planning but the bush lining Da Gama Road is not an isolated incident. Many of the not so visible roads and smaller side roads in both Cape St Francis, St Francis Bay, Santareme and the Port are literally lined with brush just waiting to catch alight and create another potential disaster.

More on Pete Buist’s talk in a later column in the near future for the subject seems to suddenly have become rather topical and Pete had some great advice on what individual homeowners can do to propect their properties in event of another in the area.

As if to emphasise all Pete had spoken of at The Links a little earlier last night, on the journey back to Cape St Francis after a superb dinner at St Francis Links (more on that later), the fire department was hard at work extinguishing another of the frequent fires at the tip. A windy night, a few airborne sparks and embers and who knows …..

Plenty to entertain over the past week

Plenty to enjoy in St Francis

For a quiet little community there really are times when there is much to do and enjoy in St Francis if one is prepared to go out and find it.

Motivational

Last Wednesday those in the paddling fraternity were treated to a superb talk at their new club facility at Quaysyde Restaurant on Sea Glades Drive on the canals when triple Springbok, Matt Bouman, gave a relaxed talk relating to how he and fellow paddler Dawid Mocke came within seconds of being washed against the rocky cliffs in the middle of the night when looking for a place to beach when participating in the lunatic “Ocean Warriors” quest to paddle from Cape Town to Durban in seven days.

Matt went on to give words of advice to the younger members of the audience of around 60 locals, paddlers and non-paddlers alike which included upcoming aquatic star Amica de Jager amongst other keen sporting youngsters on how it was not enough to just want success but to live it and to continue to do more than one’s competitors to achieve that success.

If Matt returns to our shores sometime in the future St Francis Today will be in the front row to listen to this extremely humble man and one hopes the paddling club will make an event of it for others to come and listen in much the same way as Cape St Francis Resort brought Chris Beamish to talk at the resort over the Christmas holidays. Possibly a good time would be when he hopefully returns to St Francis next year to defend his ‘King of the Kromme’ crown. And if he does agree to again present his experiences, every youngster should be encouraged to attend as his message of commitment pertains to whatever career, be it sport or academic, one chooses.

Food pairing

Next on the list of last week has to be the food and beer pairing at St Francis Brewing Company.  It seems Chef Daniel Hoffman has no bounds on coming up with outstanding food ideas and his salt encrusted pork belly was simply ‘I want some more’. Also on the menu and equally outstanding was a smoked brisket dish. Brisket you ask? Brisket is one of the more popular meat cuts in the United States believe it or not but for some reason we South African’s, spoilt up until now with relatively cheap sirloin, rump and even fillet, have disregarded brisket as sub-standard meat yet it is probably tastier than any of the popular steak cuts and Chef Daniel certainly opened one’s eyes to just how damn good it is.

Hopefully the Brewing Company will continue these beer food pairings once a month throughout the winter months for judging by the growing number of diners over the past three months they are proving to be a popular way of spending an evening with good food and friends, new and old.

Music

To end off the week the classical music soiree at Dune Ridge, the first of what we hope will be many more was, simply put, a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening. Such talent resides in our village and nearby Jeffreys Bay and more of these evenings will no doubt uncover other accomplished musicians.

Two hours entertainment with great music, great wine and as usual, superb canapes served by Sarah and her staff at Dune Ridge was a steal at R125. The music was performed over two sessions, each starting with an ensemble made up of a cello (Annamarie Serrao), alto recorder (Maria van Rensberg) and flute (Sally Anderson) and followed by pianists Cedric Coates of Jeffreys Bay. Margaret Evens and Ria Brink, both of St Francis Bay.

Cedric’s rendition of one of the great composers of the 1920’s, George Gershwin’s “Someone to watch over me” followed by Richard Clayderman’s, (remember him) “Ballade to Adeline” set the stage for Margaret’s “Witches Dance” composed by Edward MacDowell. This incredibly talented lady would not been out of place, one feels, on stage at the Royal Albert Hall.

During her second session Ria played Chopin’s Polonaise Op26 which always reminds one of a husband and wife having a heated discussion. As the music progresses through different movements, gruffness of the husband followed by the gentle tones of the wife placating, sometimes rising to confrontation before again falling to gentle persuasion. Outstanding!

Other music included a medley by Margaret which included the ever popular The Hills are alive with the Sound of Music and Dizzy Fingers amongst others, Ria’s Forgotten Waltz by Liszt with Cedric bringing a thoroughly enjoyable evening to close with Autumn Concerto.

Talk at St Francis Links

But there is more to enjoy this evening at St Francis Links when US Fire Fighter extraordinaire give a talk that should be of interest to most of living in St Francis given the areas propensity to and history of fires.

 

 

Second Registration Weekend and status of voters’ roll

Municipal Elections:

2016 municipal elections

Widespread concerns were raised following the LGE2016 second registration weekend. After a sms went out from the IEC to about 5 million voters, requesting voters to update their address information, voters became concerned about their status on the voters’ roll. This state of panic increased after the media reported that Mr Glen Mashinini, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, warned that more than two thirds of the voters roll stand to be disenfranchised due to the absence of sufficient address information.

After enquiries by the DA, the IEC confirmed that once a voter is verified as a voter and has been placed on the voters’ roll, such a voter cannot be removed without an audit trail indicating who removed that voter and the reasons for that removal (if at all). Only a voter that has applied for de-registration in terms of section 10 of the Electoral Act 1998 (Act 73 of 1998) may be removed completely from the voters’ roll. The Electoral Commission confirmed that they have not removed from the voters’ roll, a single voter or information of a voter who was previously on the voters’ roll.

Following the events that unfolded and the concerns raised by the voters, the DA requested an updated voters’ roll from the IEC to ensure accuracy of information contained in the voters’ roll. The DA undertake to report and follow up on all matters of possible corruption or irregularities brought to their attention. We are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the matter currently before the Constitutional Court, as this would provide the necessary clarity on the voters’ roll. 

FAQ

  1. I registered during the weekend of 5/6 March, but my information is not updated yet?
    The IEC is currently experiencing a backlog with the capturing of data. If your information is still outdated on the IEC website please contact the DA’s call centre at 0861 22 55 32 to assist.
  1. If I did not update my address during one of the two registration weekend, will I still be able to vote?
    Nobody may be taken off the voters’ role, irrespective of the address or lack of an address on the voters’ roll. Currently the IEC has confirmed that all people currently on the voters’ roll will be able to vote on 3 August.
    The Constitutional Court will on 9 May hear arguments regarding the addresses of voters on the voters’ roll and the impact that will have on the validity of the voters’ roll.
  1. Can I still update my address information or re-register for the LGE2016?
    Message Script Circular 15 13 April 2016
    If you would like to re-register in a new voting district or update your information, you may do so by taking your ID document to your nearest IEC office during office hours.
  1. How would I know where my new Voting District is?
    You can check if you are registered in the correct voting district on Check.da.org.za. You can also check where you are registered to vote on elections.org.za or sms your ID to 32810 or call 0861 22 55 32

Beautiful plants of the Kouga area – worth protecting

Brunsvigia gregaria

Driving into and around Cape St Francis one cannot help but notice many beautiful pink flowers popping up on pavements and gardens (sadly this does not happen so often now in St Francis Bay).

These striking plants which can be seen flowering from the Gamtoos River on the N2, to the Greater St Francis area, have become highly threatened because of urban development, alien invasion, and ignorance. They are in danger of dying out if people, new to the area, are not informed about it and botanists and plant lovers hope that with more awareness their disappearance may be halted.

brunsvigia--flower-11

The beautiful Brunsvigia gregaria currently flowering needs your protection or it will be lost forever. These were photographed growing on a pavement along the main road in St Francis Bay. Picture: YVONNE CRAIG

These striking Brunsvigia gregaria plants belong to the Amaryllidaceae family. They have a large bulb with a particularly beautiful inflorescence. The latter consists of about 20 to 30 pink, to deep pink or crimson flowers on a stalk rising straight out of the ground, without any leaves being visible. The flowers usually appear above ground now, in autumn. After flowering, the dried inflorescence breaks loose in one piece and blows around like tumbleweed.

Digging these threatened species out with a trowel will not help to protect them as the roots will become damaged in the process. They can be propagated by planting the seeds so the flower should be left to dry naturally so that the seed can set and then be dispersed by wind. Gardeners are advised to mow around the flower to let it dry naturally. In winter, when the plant is building up growth for the next flowering period, the leaves come out as two flat leaves (close to the ground) looking just like weeds to those not familiar with the plant.

“It is actually an offence to dig up Brunsvigia, or any lilliacae plants,” says Caryl Logie, a local botanist. “If they need to be rescued for any reason, a permit must be obtained from the Department of Environmental affairs in Aston Bay (telephone 042 292 0339).”

If you rescue these flower heads to make into unusual indoor decorations, please ensure that any seeds that are left in them are planted in a safe spot.

Questions regarding these plants may be directed to Caryl Logie on 042 294 0588 or 083 529 5410

and photo by Yvonne Craig

Nautical Festival an event not to be missed!

Nautical Festival Update

Update from Lyn Aitken

St Francis Nautical FestivalIt’s that time of year again when St Francis residents and visitors alike celebrate all things nautical with the annual Nautical Festival held at Port St Francis from the evening of Friday April 29th through to Sunday 1st May. This is a not-to-be-missed weekend of fun and entertainment for the whole family literally offering something for everyone. Nautical festival team spokesperson Janet Harrison said, “Our committee, the Port St Francis Owner’s Association and St Francis Tourism have gone to every length to ensure that every facility and amenity is available to provide our festival goers with a wonderful experience. There is literally something for everyone and we are encouraging our entire community to participate in the spirit of the nautical theme with all sorts of prizes available for innovative ideas.” The festival will get into full swing from Friday evening with the spectacular chokka boat light display at sunset when at least twenty boats will light up the whole harbour. The official opening ceremony will take place 10 a.m. on April 30th with a flag parade by the TS Kromme Sea Cadets and finishing with a SANCCOB penguin release from the Harbour. On display will be photography, quilts and other arts and crafts, beautiful model boats and  even an educational  live shark tank on the square! And if Crafters’ market stalls at the Port will offer irresistible mementoes, gifts and keepsakes. Plenty of refreshment will be on hand at the various restaurants, bars and tea gardens. Throughout the weekend DJ Shane Barnes, live music and Billy’s Bar will be in full swing at the Port. The proceeds from the tea garden at the Port are in aid of the SPCA this year so well worth supporting! Pre festival events include the Harbour Master’s Port clean-up on Wednesday 27th from 9 until 4 p.m. This is open to all divers, scuba and snorkel, both individuals and clubs. The idea is to get as many divers as possible into the water to start cleaning up underwater. This is a great community project with super prizes to be won. The children will not want to miss the SANCCOB Kiddies’ Festival on Thursday 28th from 3 to 7 p.m. at SANCCOB Rehabilitation Centre in Cape St Francis which is to be followed by an outdoor movie night showing “Surf’s Up” “We are very excited to be including  inflatable zip-line, obstacle course and sumo suits this year,” added Harrison. “Another new event aimed at our pet lovers is a dog walk from the Port in aid of SPCA on Sunday morning. Participants are asked to bring a bag of dog food, dog blanket or collars in lieu of an entry fee.” “Sportsmen and women will have a number of events to choose from including the annual Rotary Makro Golf Festival played over two days on both the St Francis Bay Golf Course and the prestigious St Francis Links. Also on offer are bowls, tennis and volley ball at Quayside. We are really thrilled that the whole St Francis community has thrown its support behind the Festival this year.” To further whet visitor’s appetites, the energetic can kick off the weekend with a 5km Park Run on Saturday morning at the Links and take in the Colour Run on Sunday morning at the Port in aid of the SANCCOB. Keen anglers will not want to miss the St Francis Festival Fishing Challenge hosted jointly by the St Francis Rod, Reel & Boat Club and the St Francis Boat and Angling Club where anglers will compete for fantastic prizes for the largest Edible Fish (game and bottom fish) and the Largest Weighed Fish for both Adults and Juniors under 16. Entry is free and registration takes place on Friday 29th April. Call Tim Christy to register on 082-569-3750. For those looking for gentler pursuits try a canal or sea cruise, browse the Village market on Saturday morning, or take in one of the super music events at the Port, Christy’s Catch in the village and the new Rock Lily in Cape St Francis. “This is a very long holiday weekend so book your accommodation now to avoid disappointment and look out for specials on our Facebook page. And don’t forget to pack your nautical look attire!” continued Harrison. There is still time to book market stalls at the Port over the weekend – e-mail info@balobi.co.za for more information. Music buskers are welcome too and should call Bridget Rogers on 072 386 0259 to secure a spot. Follow our Facebook Page(www.facebook.com/nauticalcapitalfestival) for the full programme and all registration or booking information. Or call St Francis Tourism 042 294 0076 – accomodation@stfrancistourism.co.za