Festive season events can save jobs and lives

Kouga Municipality - logoMedia Release
As part of its economic recovery plan for the region, Kouga Municipality is putting together an action-packed programme for the coming festive season.
“The COVID-19 lockdown has been hard on our local businesses. Some have had to close their doors while others have had to let go of staff,” said Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks. 
“Depending on the COVID-19 restrictions in December, the festive season could be an opportunity for us to give our businesses a much-needed boost, thereby facilitating job retention and creation.” 
He said the municipality had started planning towards the festive season so that everything would be in place to receive and entertain visitors should the COVID-19 restrictions allow it.
“Should our Tourism industry be able to operate unrestricted during December, but no plans are in place, it will be yet another blow for our region’s economy and people’s ability to make a living,” he said. 
“Should the restrictions prevent us from hosting certain events, the programme will be adjusted accordingly.” 
Hendricks said provisional plans included a combined laser and fireworks show on 18 December to open the season. 
“We are also planning towards Old Year’s Eve and are hopeful that we will be able to welcome in 2021 with a traditional fireworks display.”
He said the municipality was mindful that many animal lovers objected to fireworks. 
“We are not unsympathetic towards these concerns and have weighed up the pros and cons very carefully.”
He said the potential positive spin-offs of an organised  fireworks show outweighed the risks. 
“Fireworks are traditionally associated with special events and welcoming the new year. This is true across the globe, not only in South Africa or the Kouga regional,” he said. 
“Firework displays are major crowd-pullers and we need events of this nature to attract visitors to our region and drive the recovery of our economy, job retention and creation.”
He said the shows would go hand-in-hand with a campaign to discourage people from discharging fireworks at home or other public areas.
“Despite this being illegal, people shooting off fireworks in their personal capacity has been an ongoing challenge and is difficult to police.
“Our aim is to encourage everyone to attend the official events and to refrain from breaking the law by shooting off fireworks elsewhere.
“Animal lovers will then also know exactly when to expect the fireworks so that they can put measures in place to keep their pets safe.”
He said the municipality would be working closely with stakeholders, including the safety and tourism sectors, to help ensure communities reaped as much benefit as possible from the 2020 festive season.
Kouga Lifeguards

Lifeguard applicants were put to the test last week as part of Kouga Municipality’s preparations for the festive season.

“Then and now” in the Greater St Francis Region

Up until the end of the 1980s St Francis Bay enjoyed a beautiful wide beach even at spring high tides. Note the large area of mobile dunes plunging into the sea along the headland from launching site to the present-day harbour.   At the time of the photo, dune stabilisation was in progress in preparation for the development of Santareme. The hummock dune in the foreground, clothed in an indigenous dune grass (Thinopyrum distichum), is a sign of a healthy beach.

The same scene photographed this year. The beach has now eroded to a narrow strip, passable only at low tide. The hummock dunes, nature’s way of protecting coastal infrastructure, have been replaced by rock revetments. The mobile dunes along the headland have been replaced by houses as far as the eye can see. These dunes used to supply about 80 000 m3 of sand into St Francis Bay each year. Since that sand supply was cut-off, some 8.8 million m3 of sand has been lost from the sea floor of St Francis Bay. The amount of sand that is transported by longshore drift around Cape St Francis (Shark Point) – about 10 000 m3  –  and the amount derived from the remaining bypass dune near the point – also about  10 000 m3  – are inadequate to counter this loss.

View looking southwest from the junction of the boundaries between Cape St Francis Nature Reserve, Cape St Francis Village and St Francis Field (air park). Note the absence of houses east of the Cape St Francis Resort and the dense stands of invasive rooikrans (Acacia cyclops) in what is now the Seal Bay Nature Reserve.

The same scene today, above Duiker Street. The scene is now dominated by the houses of Extension4 of Cape St Francis but the fynbos in the foreground (part of the Cape St Francis Nature Reserve) remains intact and the Seal Bay Nature Reserve is free of alien rooikrans.

Kouga region sees sharp increase in COVID-19 cases

Kouga Municipality - logo

The number of COVID-19 infections in the Kouga region almost doubled last week, leading to a renewed call on residents and business to adhere to the basic safety precautions.

Covid Poster

According to the latest report from the Department of Health, there were 45 active cases of COVID-19 in the Kouga region as at 18 October compared to 24 on 12 October. 

“This is the first steep increase we have seen in some weeks and a harsh reminder that the coronavirus is still very much among us. 

“We cannot relax our guard if we are serious about avoiding a second wave,” cautioned Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks. 

“All residents and visitors are urged to wear face masks when in public, practise proper hand hygiene and to maintain social distancing.”

The latest statistics show that there were 22 active cases In Humansdorp on 18 October, 12 in Jeffreys Bay, four in St Francis and one in Hankey. 

The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in the Kouga region stood at 1 794 on 18 October, including 1 706 recoveries and 43 deaths. 

St Francis College Head moving on

Outgoing headmaster Warwick Osmond

It is with much sadness that the St Francis College says goodbye to headmaster Warwick Osmond at the end of the year. We caught up with him to chat about his time at St Francis College, and the road ahead.

Warwick Os,ond

It has been a busy time at SFC. It seemed that the small classes made for a quick catch-up post lockdown. Would you agree?
Yes, our small numbers have made it relatively easy to manage under the Covid-19 scenario. We came back to school on the 1st of June. We had a comprehensive Covid-19 protocol for our return to school, and we have been following the procedures every day since then. Having small classes meant that all the pupils could be at school every day. We did not have to implement other strategies such as alternating days or weeks for different learners, as has had to be done at other schools. As a result, our pupils have had uninterrupted schooling since June.

What else is cool about being at a smaller school?
Being at a small school is a reassuring experience for a child. The scale of the campus is not overwhelming, and the amount of activity and noise is unthreatening. Children feel comfortable and at home on our campus. It is also a unique and stimulating environment with chickens and guinea fowls running around and cattle out in the fields. The teachers know all the children’s names and each child becomes known to all the other children. It is a very personal and welcoming environment.

What was the most fun you had as a headmaster of The College?
It was so nice to have interaction with younger children – my previous teaching experience was mainly with high school children. The campus is such a happy place with all the children absolutely loving school and being so eager to please their teachers. There has been a lot of fun in the last two years. Some stand-out events were the play at The Links last year, the inter-house athletics meeting, the swimming galas, the Otter Challenge, the grade 5 camp and the grade 7’s trip to Cape Town.

What will be your lasting impression of your time at the College?
St Francis College is a school with the most beautiful situation. The children have the opportunity to enjoy the natural environment every day. My lasting impression is of a school that is giving children the most amazing start on their education journey. A child will never forget the fun and excitement of their school days at St Francis College.

Quite a lifestyle out here – you rediscovered surfing and got involved in fishing. What else?
I have always been a beach bum at heart. Living here is like having the backyard of my dreams. Getting back on a board and actually having some magic rides has been rejuvenating. I have a favourite fishing spot that I can get to within minutes, and I can spend hours there. I also have a dog who demands his walk every day, and there is no limit on the amount of walking one can do here. We have also met wonderful people and made lasting friendships. It has been a rewarding, albeit short, stay in St Francis.

What lies ahead, apart from a long Christmas holiday?
Well, we will be living in PE. My wife is teaching at Theodor Herzl, and I hope to be in a new position soon too.

Wildflower Chase 2020 St Francis Field

A report by Colleen Smith

Wildflowers St Francis Field

Gladiolus hutonii

The lockdown, because of Covid-19, called into question whether we hold a Wildflower Chase this year or not. Dave Bowmer and I discussed it – there was no spectacular display of the pink and yellow Senecio’s that we had last year and we were not sure what we would be able to show off. The Cape St Francis Resort was not able to host a Wildflower festival and if we did do anything, strict protocols would have to be followed. But wild flowers never disappoint us and we decided to go ahead with a different version of the Wildflower Chase.

With help from Margie Middleton we put together a booklet with a comprehensive but by no means complete list of the flowers, shrubs and trees found on St Francis Field. We made labels for a small selection of them and we invited visitors to accompany us on a self-drive Chase. Posters were put up and an invitation was posted on various social media platforms.

Our next challenge was the weather. We chose 2nd to 4th October for the event and then weather reports predicted strong winds and rain for those days, neither which contribute to enjoyable flower chasing! So we shifted the days to the only two sunny days we could see for the next two weeks and persons who had already booked were phoned about the date change.

In the end, Dave Bowmer, Margie Middleton and Colleen Smith took four groups (22 participants).

The vulnerable Gladiolus hutonii and Pelargonium suburbanum were both out in full splendour, the endangered Satyrium princeps or red orchids were just coming into bloom and the near threatened Moreae australis were all open in the mid-day sun. Hosts of other varieties of flowers also gave a great showing and a highlight of the trip was the garden belonging to one of the homeowners on the ridge overlooking Cape St Francis.

This garden was planted last year by Dave on a sand dune splattered with builder’s rubble after the house was built. Plants were all indigenous, with the majority being those found in this area. Since then it has had almost no attention but has thrived despite plenty of wind and very little rain. This is a wonderful example what can be achieved and gave inspiration to many of the participants.

Proceeds from entrance fees went to F.O.S.T.E.R.

Wildflower Garden in St Francis Field

Wildflower Garden in St Francis Field

More information on FOSTER visit their website at http://foster.org.za

Friends of St Francis Nature Reserves