Please no Fireworks!!

Fire risk high as Guy Fawkes approaches

Photo by Colleen Ebersohn of Cape St Francis Fire from Wildside

As Kouga firefighters continue to battle fires in and around the region, Kouga Municipality has issued an appeal to residents to desist from making fires around Guy Fawkes Day as this poses a danger to human lives, animals, property and the environment.

This unofficial commemoration, marked on 5 November annually, is characterised by bonfires, the swinging of burning tyres which are often left unattended on the roads and the launching of fireworks.

Guy Fawkes Day has been part of British history since 1605 when plans to bomb the House of Lords and kill King James I was foiled. One of the plotters of the explosion – Guy Fawkes – was caught in the basement of the building with the explosives to be used in the assassination. He was later executed, together with his co-plotters.

The celebrations were exported to the colonies of the British empire in later years.

Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said the so-called “celebrations” prompted by this event could not be ignored, as they are illegal and pose a serious risk to lives and property.

“The burning tyres leave our tar roads with significant damage while vehicles, including emergency vehicles, have to navigate around the tyres. Animals are further tormented by the sounds of fireworks and sometimes fall victim to participants who use them as props and sacrifices,” he said.

Hendricks said the environment wasn’t spared as tyre carbon filled the air, affecting  people and plants alike.

“Besides this, there is always a risk of fires starting, again putting lives in danger,” he said.

He added that the municipality alone could not deal with curbing the scourge as these activities took place across all towns and in almost every street.

“It needs a collective effort, including educational campaigns,” he said.Over the past few days,

Kouga experienced gale force winds gusting at speeds of more than 90km an hour, thus making the area vulnerable to fires. Towns in the Garden Route, including Kouga’s neighbour  Koukamma, were hit by devastating fires which have been taking days to extinguish. By Tuesday eight people, including children, had lost their lives in George.

Press Release – Kouga Municipality

NSRI Pink Rescue Buoys 12 months on

15 people rescued in 12 months as communities embrace the Pink Buoy initiative

In November 2017, NSRI launched the Pink Rescue Buoy programme. The intention is to provide easily accessible emergency flotation at drowning hot spots.

Beaches initially targeted were: Wilderness, Plettenberg Bay, Dappat se Gat, Strand and Monwabisi. As funding came in, more buoys were deployed. To date 300 buoys have been installed around the coastline and at rivers, dams and swimming pools.

One year later NSRI report a resounding success. 15 people have been rescued in a 12 month period.

Not only has the programme gained wide support locally, it has also attracted international interest and this month we attend the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) awards ceremony in Norway, where the NSRI Pink Rescue Buoy project is a finalist in the category Innovation and Technology.

Despite initial concern that these buoys would be stolen, for the most part of the year we ran at less than 10% being stolen, peaking at 22% being stolen.  Many of the buoys that had been taken were soon returned, fuelling our belief that awareness and community buy-in are critical to the success of the programme. 

Sadly at Strand Beach we have had repeated theft of buoys at 5 sites along that 2km stretch of coastline (from Mostertsbaai to The Pipe).  Despite local sponsorship and an extensive media and social media campaign, theft of the Pink Buoys in the Strand left us with no other alternative but to withdraw the Pink Rescue Buoys from this area. This was not an easy decision. This is a known drowning hot spot and we remain extremely concerned about this area as the festive season approaches.

The buoys are pink because thats the most visible colour in the surf making them unique to NSRI so if you find one thats not on its pole at the beach you can hand it in at any surf shop, Police Station or call NSRI.

NSRI’s head of Drowning Prevention, Andrew Ingram says:  “We have proven that there is a definite need for these Pink Rescue Buoys. There is no doubt in our mind that this is a project worth investing in. 15 people rescued with the help of a Pink Rescue Buoy in 12 months speaks for itself.”

“The Pink Rescue Buoys are a community initiative, sponsored by the community, for the community. When a community works together the Pink Rescue Buoys remain at their posts, ready for action in the event of an emergency. Just as you would talk to your families about looking both ways before you cross the street, please talk to your families about the Pink Rescue Buoys. Look for one when you get to a beach, and if you see someone carrying one away from the beach, stop them, and explain that a stolen buoy, is a stolen life.” 

Clamp down on illegal electricity

Joint operation to clamp down on illegal electricity

Illegal electricity wires worth an estimated R5000 was confiscated by Kouga Municipality and the Jeffreys Bay SAPS in a joint operation last week.

Infrastructure and Engineering Portfolio Councillor Freddy Campher said the operation had focused on Bantu Holomisa Street at Tokyo Sexwale, where illegal electricity connections were increasingly putting the lives of innocent residents at risk. 

“Just recently a cow was shocked to death by an illegal wire near Makukhanye Primary. It could as easily have been an innocent child. 

” The practice of stealing electricity cannot be allowed to continue and we plea with communities not to tolerate such behavior. It puts everyone’s lives and property at risk,” Campher said.

He said a criminal case of malicious damage to essential infrastructure was being investigated, as the culprits responsible for laying the illegal wires had damaged the power box supplying electricity to the area. 

“The municipality has already had to spend more than R50 000 on repairing the power box. This is money that could have been spent on improving service delivery to the area.”

He said the maximum sentence for this offense had recently been increased to 30 years in jail because of the tremendous danger it poses to people’s lives and property, and the conflict it fuels between municipalities and communities.