Press Release: Avian Deaths reported along Divisional Road 1614 caused by Avian Botulism

On 13 February 2019, a resident of Rondevlei via a local newspaper reported a number of bird deaths in the Rondevlei area in close proximity to Divisional Road 1614. The resident alluded to the possibility of the herbicide used by the Garden Route District Municipality: Roads and Transport Planning along the road reserve for Divisional Road 1614 being the cause of the aforesaid bird deaths. Lab tests have indicated otherwise.

On 15 February 2019, SANPARKS informed the GRDM that the bird deaths were caused by a disease known as avian botulism.

Avian botulism is a neuromuscular illness of birds caused by a toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Fish-eating birds are poisoned by eating fish that contain the toxin.

Ingestion of maggots from the carcass of an infected animal can continue the spread of avian botulism. Avian botulism is most prevalent during summer months. The decease cannot be transmitted to humans, but as a precautionary measure SANPARK rangers collected the carcasses daily. The decease cannot be transmitted to humans, but as a precautionary measure SANPARK rangers collected the carcasses daily. SANPARKS also indicated that a statement will be released.

Various departments in the GRDM responded promptly to establish the cause of the bird deaths, and to determine whether the GRDM held any liability therein. Although we could establish that the deaths were not caused by herbicides used by the GRDM: Roads and Transport Planning Services, we will endeavour to exercise caution in the selection of the herbicides that are used for road reserve management and the effect that it may have on the receiving environment.

Enteroviral Meningitis

Increase in Enteroviral Meningitis cases in Garden Route district

Public hospitals in the Garden Route have recently reported an increase in Enteroviral Meningitis cases. In South Africa seasonal peaks occur especially in warmer months.

George Hospital has seen a total of 71 patients with suspected enteroviral meningitis since 1 February 2019. Eleven cases have been confirmed by the laboratory. Most of these cases are children under 14 years of age. Another sub-district with an increase in suspected enteroviral meningitis cases is Mossel Bay. Mossel Bay Hospital has seen a total of 19 cases of suspected enteroviral meningitis since 1 February 2019. Knysna Hospital has also seen an increase in cases with a total of 66 suspected cases of enteroviral meningitis. None of the cases were from a single geographical area or source.

This is not the bacterial form (known as meningococcal) of meningitis. No deaths and no cases with serious complications have been reported to date.

Meningitis is an infection of the fluid that is found in the spinal cord and that surrounds the brain. It is usually caused by an infection with a virus or a bacterium (micro-organism).  Enteroviruses are the most common cause of viral meningitis worldwide. It is a common virus that can enter the body through the mouth and travel to the brain and surrounding tissues. It is a mild illness and the majority of ill people will recover within a week (7 – 10 days).

People of all ages are at risk. However, the risk of getting the disease is higher in individuals who are immune compromised and children less than 5 years old. Common symptoms of enteroviral meningitis in children include fever, poor eating, irritability, lethargy (lack of energy) and sleepiness. Adults may present with fever, stiff neck, headache, dislike of bright lights (photophobia), lethargy, sleepiness, and lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting.

Western Cape Government Health has strengthened its efforts within the affected sub-districts with a focus on handwashing and general hygiene. Community Health Workers have also been trained around the reinforcement of hygienic practices.

Good hygiene practices including hand washing after using the toilet, changing nappies or visiting sick people and disinfection of surfaces will reduce the chances of getting an enteroviral infection. Covering your cough or sneeze, and washing hands thereafter is also helpful.

How can you prevent getting infected?

Hand hygiene (regular handwashing with soap and water) and good personal hygiene helps to prevent infection with many viruses including enteroviruses.

Wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet, before preparing food, and after sneezing and coughing.

Adults should teach and encourage children to wash their hands properly, and emphasise regular handwashing when children are at school and in contact with many other children.

For media queries contact:

Nadia Ferreira

Principal Communications Officer

Garden Route and Central Karoo Districts

Western Cape Government Health

Garden Route District Municipality's CANSA Relay for Life supporters

Garden Route DM attends ‘CANSA Relay for Life’ and donates R15 100 to the cause

For the fourth year in a row, Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) has participated in the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) Relay for Life. Employees from various GRDM Departments worked together to sell sausage rolls, cool drinks, water, pancakes and one employee even set up a photo booth to raise funds for the cause.

The municipality’s comprehension of the importance of corporate social responsibility and compassion for others remain the driving force behind why the municipality attends community-focused events. The employee coordinating the municipality’s CANSA Relay for Life attendance and activities, Human Resources Practitioner Employee Assistance Programme of GRDM, Shandré Abrahams said “We are incredibly thankful for our colleagues volunteering their time, effort and financial resources to take part in this initiative and showing their whole-hearted support towards the CANSA Relay for Life.

Megan Cunningham, Task Administrator said Cancer is an illness that affects many of our relatives and friends, and by supporting this initiative we ensure the continued support to all cancer patients that are assisted by CANSA.” Megan also set up a photo booth at the event to raise funds.

Services rendered and goods sold on the day amounted to a profit of R5 100, which has been paid to CANSA. GRDM Speaker, Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies also donated R10 000 from her budget to CANSA.

Speaker Bouw-Spies also committed to continue supporting the ‘Relay for Life’. During her message of support to participants at the event, she explained that although she in attendance on behalf of the District, she was also attending it in her personal capacity. Cllr Bouw-Spies lost a cousin to cancer in 2018 and this year one of her best friends is fighting the battle with cancer.

During her address, she pleaded to the CANSA supporters to support those affected by the illness in any way possible, be it “physically, emotionally or financially.”

“To those who have decided to isolate themselves after being diagnosed with cancer – it cannot be that this approach of dealing with the illness is the best thing to do. We must support those who are going through such a traumatising time – at all costs,” she said. 

In conclusion, Cllr Bouw-Spies shared the following: “For me, this event is symbolic to pushing through the darkness and throughout the toughest hours, reaching out a helping hand, supporting one another, until the darkness turns into light.”

A video of Speaker Eleanore Bouw-Spies during her message of support can be viewed by clicking here:


Garden Route Distriksmunisipaliteit het vanjaar vir ‘n vierde keer aan die ‘KANSA Relay for Life’ deelgeneem. Die munisipaliteit het R5 100 ingesamel tydens die program, wat die groottotaal van fondse bedoel vir kankernavorsing bring tot op R15 100. GRDM amptenare het worsrolletjies, koeldranke en water tydens die program verkoop. Een amptenaar het ‘n foto-hoekie opgestel wat gehelp het met addisionele fondsinsameling.

Speaker van GRDM, Raadslid Eleanore Bouw-Spies, het die program bygewoon en ‘n boodskap van ondersteuning oorgedra aan deelnemers en gaste.   Rdl. Bouw-Spies het verlede jaar ‘n familielid verloor aan kanker, en tans veg een van haar beste vriendinne die stryd teen kanker. Sy het ‘n pleidooi gelewer dat familie en vriende kankerleiers finansieel, emosioneel of fisies moet ondersteun en dat daar nie toegelaat moet word dat enige kankerleier in isolasie moet verkeer nie. Vriende en familie moet kankerleiers tydens elke stap van die stryd ondersteun.

The group of Garden Route District Municipality employees who took part in the CANSA Relay for Life in George.
Megan Cunningham (GRDM TASK Administrator) takes a photo of the Bouw-Spies family, fLTR: Cllr Rowan Spies (Garden Route DM Portfolio Chairperson, Roads Services), Elrin Bouw-Spies, Lendell Bouw-Spies and Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies (Garden Route DM Speaker and Knysna Ward 5 Councillor).
Nocwaka Ndabeni, GRDM Disaster Management Intern, is to thank for the sales of sausage rolls and drinks because of her carnival dance moves and sales pitches to participants at the event.
: Lizelle Uithaler (Personal Assistant to the Deputy Executive Mayor of GRDM), Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies (GRDM Speaker), Ayvah Saayman, Ilse Saayman (GRDM Manager: Performance Management) and Elrin Bouw-Spies.


Garden Route DM Roads Employees excel again

A special awards ceremony was held for nearly 40 of Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM’s) Roads employees at the Roads Department in George on Thursday, 21 February 2019. Certificates and trophies were handed out to those individuals and teams who excelled in their work 2018/19 financial year.  The event is steered by Executive Manager, Roads Services: Mr John G Daniels and by his side on the day to deliver messages of support were GDRM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen and Municipal Manager, Mr Monde Stratu.

Mr Stratu commended everyone, saying that they are “willing to leave families and loved ones behind to do the work,” making this district “amongst the best in the country in terms of roads maintenance and construction.” Mr Stratu added that the Department has “excelled consistently over time,” which demonstrates the level of “commitment of each staff member.” He concluded that this generation should do anything in its power to ensure that the next generation inherits a better country than their predecessors.

In his address, Cllr Booysen said that Council is in serious discussion about the future of the Roads Department and that these discussions are seen in a positive light.  He added that the recent developments with Ekusasa Mining provides the opportunity for possible collaborations with GDRM Roads to see if the current formula they use for gravel roads in the northern parts of South Africa and other African countries can be adapted to use on gravel roads in this district.

Mr Daniels echoed the gratitude expressed by Mr Stratu and Cllr Booysen, adding that maintaining approximately 6 200km of roads is no easy task. “People mostly only see trucks and graders coming and going, but very few understand the amount of work being done, sometimes in harsh conditions. Workers are continuously exposed to the elements of nature, but through perseverance and passion are able to deliver quality work that makes us amongst the best in the country.”

‘n Spesiale toekenningseremonie op 21 Februarie 2019 is vir ongeveer 40 Garden Route Distriksmunisipalteit Paaie personeel gehou. Munisipale Bestuurder, Monde Stratu en Uitvoerende Burgemeester, Raadslid Memory Booysen, het ook die toekenningseremonie bygewoon. Albei leiers het genoem dat die sukses van die Paaie Departement grootendeels afhang van die toewyding van werkers en dat dit ooglopend is dat Paaie-personeel elke jaar hul kant bring. Mnr John G Daniels, Uitvoerende Bestuurder: Paaie Dienste Departement, het genoem dat die onderhoud van ongeveer 6 200km paaie in ons streek ‘n geweldige taak is. “Mense sien meestal net trokke en padskrapers heen en weer ry op ons paaie, sonder om bewus te wees van die daaglikse take wat vervul moet word. Werkers word daagliks met klimaat (hitte en koue) en selfs stof, gekonfronteer.”  

Executive Manager, Roads Services: Mr John G Daniels facilitated the awards ceremony. By his side to deliver messages of support were Municipal Manager, Mr Monde Stratu (middle) and GDRM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen (right
The group of employees from Garden Route District Municipality who attended the award ceremony. 1st Row Fron front left to right: Gert Verwy, J James, P James, Cllr M Booysen, J Mnyungula, N Johnson, M Stratu, A Nduma, M Lindoor, John Daniels, T Nortjie-Singh,
2nd Row from left to right: A Gerber, D Coerecius, E Jordaan, B Etsabeth, D October, R April, M Pedro, E Laws, P Scholtz, W Booysen and J Hartnick. 3rd Row from left to right: J Gunter, D Van Rooyen, S Bence, A Steenkamp, B Van Staden, F Pretorius, F Swanepoel, J Gunguluza, G Heunis and A Cupido. Last row from left to right: B Hartzenberg, D Krohn, M Stuurman, F Oktober, J Strydom and X Smuts.

Speaker Bouw-Spies donates R10 000 to CANSA Relay

Garden Route DM Speaker donates R10 000.00 to ‘CANSA Relay for Life’

Only a few months in her new position as the Speaker of Garden Route District Municipality, and Councillor Eleanore Bouw-Spies has already committed R10 000.00 to the CANSA Relay for Life, which is taking place on 23 February 2019 in George. “Although I inhereted this budget, and have little left to work with, I felt the need to direct some of the funds to a worthy cause like this. We all know someone who has either passed away or been affected by Cancer and this ‘Relay for Life’ initiative serves the purpose of raising funds for research and awareness about Cancer,” Cllr Bouw-Spies said.

The Chairperson of CANSA Relay for Life, Lorraine Verhagen (left) visited the Garden Route District Municipality Offices to officially receive a cheque of R10 000.00, donated by Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies on behalf of her office and the rest of the municipality.

Last year, Speaker Bouw-Spies lost one of her cousins to cancer, and at this moment in her life, one of her close friends are affected by the illness. She said that she has seen how cancer causes a huge financial burden on those affected and on top of that, carries with it many other problems which affect the emotional and physical well-being of people. She firmly believes that we as a people should keep on providing support to those affected by Cancer by being by their side step of their journey.

Tomorrow Cllr Bouw-Spies will address the CANSA Relay for Life participants and organisers at the Carpe Diem School in George at 17:40. Garden Route District Municipality has entered two relay teams, consisting of ten employees each.

Entry fee for adults: R30 p/p, children, R20 p/p.

No Arsenic found at Geelhoutvlei Timbers

During the George veldt fires end of last year, Geelhoutvlei Timbers situated in Karatara, was almost completely destroyed. This tragic incident raised fears that Arsenic-treated wood stored on the premises could contaminate the water sources in the immediate surroundings.

Geelhoutvlei Timbers reacted pro-actively and contained the Chromated Copper Arsenate used at their treatment plant. Surrounding residents still feared that the locations where the treated timber were stored could downwash into the nearby water sources. In order to determine if this fears are justified, the Garden Route District Municipality Air Quality Unit took representative samples for independent laboratory analysis on 17 January 2019. Outcomes of tests done were made available to GRDM on 14 February 2019.

It was confirmed that both water and soil arsenic samples took at various sampling points comply with the Total Concentration (TC) threshold for arsenic expressed as mg/kg or mg/l.


Four samples were taken, of which the results are as follow:

·         Sample 1 – Karatara cement bridge – <0.001mg/l

·         Sample 2 – 1st dam on Geelhoutvlei Timbers premises – <0.001mg/l

·         Sample 3 – De Wit dam – <0.001mg/l

·         Sample 4 – Hoogekraal bridge – <0.001mg/l

RESULT: Detection limits are 0.001mg/l and which is an indication that Arsenic was not detected in the water.


Three soil samples were taken at all the points where treated wood were stored on the Geelhoutvlei Timbers premises:

·         Sample 5 – Treated Timber area: 8.64mg/kg

·         Sample 6 – Pole Yard-East- <0.20mg/kg

·         Sample 7 – Front pole yard- 3mg/kg

RESULT: The Total Concentration (TC) threshold for Arsenic is 500mg/kg.

Chemtech laboratory used the Draft Standard for assessment of waste for landfill disposal as reference for thresholds.

Google images of the sampling points

The Garden Route DM Air Quality Unit is in the process to ensure that the contained arsenic on the premises is disposed of at an approved hazardous waste landfill site (if not done already).

For more information with regard to the above matter, contact:

Dr Johann Schoeman
Manager: District Air Quality Control
Tel: +27 (0)44 693 0006 | +27 (0)84 317 9167

Garden Route to move away from red-tape and move towards a red carpet for skills development

Garden Route District Municipality (Garden Route DM), in collaboration with Hessequa Municipality, hosted its second Garden Route Skills Summit in Stillbay on 7 February 2019. This annual event is hosted to review the progress made in terms of establishing the Garden Route as a Skills Mecca. More than 100 delegates from the public and private sectors came together to discuss and plan the next phase of the Skills Mecca initiative.

More than 100 delegates from the public-and-private sectors attended the Garden Route Skills Summit at Stillbay in Hessequa.

The first Skills Summit was held in George during February 2018 with the aim of stimulating debate around training and skills development for the Garden Route District and the seven Local Municipalities within its jurisdiction. The idea was and continues to be to attract students to relocate and study in the Garden Route, which will provide an economic injection for the Garden Route.

Mr Solly Fourie, manager of the Western Cape Government’s economic development and tourism department, explained the importance of partnerships between various training institutions. He also said: “The Western Cape Government believes that there is a need to move towards a situation where large-scale industrial development in rural towns should be incentivized – we need municipalities to assist us in this process”. From this “move” it is evident that more jobs will be created, which will be aligned to skills needs.

Councilor Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor of Garden Route DM, who was also the keynote speaker, indicated that Garden Route DM identified a property where a three million rand skills centre will be built. “The first phase will focus on skills required by a district municipality, including firefighting, disaster management and law enforcement, to name a few. Other municipalities will also, on a later stage, be asked to share their skills shortages with us to include in the training institution,” said Cllr Booysen. He reminded government representatives not to “be in competition with other municipalities in our region – this is not conducive of growing the district into the country’s leading skills mecca.”

Cllr Booysen also vowed to move the District away from “red-tape and move towards red carpets when it comes to skills development.”

Later during the programme, group discussions were facilitated by a number experts in the fields of: agriculture and processing (Clyde Lamberts); tourism and film industry (Rushka Eli); Oil and gas (Paul Hoffman); smart cities and technology (Gill Cullinan); timber industry (Karl-Heinz Niemand) and training and development (Elsie Potgieter).

Ms Elsie Potgieter, South Cape College Principal, facilitates a group discussion about training and development at the Garden Route Skills Summit.

A ‘show and tell’ session also took place where four municipalities were given the opportunity to showcase a project that was implemented within their municipal area. Garden Route DM presented their Cater Care Project, Hessequa presented a people-centred project, Bitou a lifesavers training initiative and Knysna a rapid-response programme for the environment.  Cheri-Lynn Speelman (Lecturer: Francois Ferreira Academy) and Yonela Khweleta (Intern: Francois Ferreira Academy), former students of the Cater Care training programme, which is financially spearheaded by Garden Route District Municipality and presented by the Francois Ferreira Academy, formed part of the winning team. Garden Route District Municipality’s Cater Care Programme was identified by delegates as the most successful out of all initiatives presented.

Dr Florus Prinsloo from the Western Cape Government’s department of economic development and tourism reviewed 2018’s resolutions and adjusted it based on feedback from the group discussions and other participating members.

The 2019/2020 resolutions announced at the Garden Route Skills Summit are:

  1. Continue and accelerate collaboration and cooperation among all District skills development role players.
  2. Ensure that skills development leverages digital infrastructure as far as possible to ensure learning and processes methods are and remain of a cutting edge nature.
  3. As far as possible, link skills development to investment and economic development opportunities to the advancement for all.
  4. Ensure that all skills development processes in the Garden Route always proactively considers renewable energy.
  5. Engage with all willing partners, in particular, the SETAs and the National Skills Fund, to explore the development and implementation of projects across the district.
  6. Consider and leverage local skilled people, including retired people, within the district, to accelerate the growth of the Skills Mecca.
  7. All public and/or private skills development projects and/or programmes in all municipalities are acknowledged, recorded on Skills Mecca online solution and supported within resource limitations.
  8. Progressively support the development of the new apprenticeship of 21st Century (A21) in the district.
  9. Budget, plan and implement an annual Skills Summit that is held in a different local municipality rotationally and alphabetically….2020 – Knysna – proposed on 5 March 2020.

Upcoming Garden Route DM Skills Summit – 7 February 2019

The Garden Route District Municipality, in collaboration with the B-municipalities in the district and the Western Cape Provincial Government, will be hosting the annual District Skills Summit on Thursday, 7 February 2019 in Stillbaai, a coastal town within the Hessequa Local Municipal region. 

This year’s summit follows a resolution taken at the 2018 Garden Route District Skills Summit held on 1 February 2018 in George, during which it was resolved to take the concept of a Garden Route Skills Mecca forward and review progress on an annual basis.   

The idea of a Skills Mecca originates from the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative (GRRI), which followed the devastating fires that hit the district (Knysna/Plettenberg Bay) in June 2017.  Since last year’s summit, municipalities in the district, in collaboration with various stakeholders, among others, the Provincial Government,  progressively worked together in order to bring about and implement the Garden Route Skills Mecca concept.

The 2019 Skills Summit will focus mainly on the achievements of the previous year’s implementation of the summit resolutions. The “show and tell” (presentation/competition) will give municipalities an opportunity to showcase a project that was implemented within their respective municipal areas.

Another objective of the 2019 Skills Summit will be to discuss the progress of establishing the district-wide Skills Mecca made thus far,  and also to evaluate the resolutions  determined in 2018 towards  making the Garden Route a preferred pristine destination for learning in the country and continent.   

Other role-players involved are:

– MECs

– District Mayors

– District Municipal Managers

– Corporate Services Managers

– LED Managers

– Tourism Managers

– Skills Development Facilitator

– Youth Coordinators

– Various government departments

– Western Cape Government

– Local Businesses

– Garden Route Business Chambers

– Hessequa Business Chambers

– Local NGOs

The following resolutions were taken during the 2018 Skills Summit:

  • Continue and accelerate collaboration and cooperation among all district skills development role- players born out of the GRRI;
  • Become involved and add value to the Garden Route Skills Development Strategy for a Skills Mecca across the district;
  • Ensure that the Skills Mecca concept leverages digital infrastructure as far as possible, to ensure learning and processes methods are and remain cutting edge;
  • As far as possible, link Skills Development to Investment and Economic Development opportunities to the  advancement for all;
  • Ensure that all Skills Development processes in the Garden Route ALWAYS consider and proactively
  • considers Water – a Shared Resource.
  • Ensure that all current and emerging skills development intervention in each municipality is supported and built into the Skills Mecca concept;
  • Consider and where possible; efficiently and effectively include the skills needs of Municipality in the Garden Route District, in the development and roll out of the Skills Mecca;
  • Engage with all willing partners, in particular the SETAs and the National Skills Fund, in order to explore the development and implementation of projects across the District as an integral part of the Skills Mecca.
  • Consider and leverage local skilled people, including retired people, within the District, to accelerate the growth of the Skills Mecca; and
  • Within the next six months a new skills project is started within each of the six focus areas within at least one local municipality

Municipalities are expected to prepare and present a case study of an actual skills development project implemented within their municipality at this year’s Summit. A ten minute presentation will form part of a competition to determine the annual Garden Route Skills Mecca Champion for 2018.  Presentations will be evaluated by the delegates on the day of the event through a simple ballot system.  Each case study will be judged against three criteria:

  • Did the partnerships in the project add value? – Yes or No?
  • Did the project support transformation in a creative way? – Yes or No?
  • Did the project make learners more employable? – Yes or No?

The envisaged outcome of the Summit is to ‘’fine-tune” the resolutions from 2018 and develop ideas on how to accelerate implementation of the Skills Mecca in the Garden Route. The Skills Summit will be an annual event on a rotational basis; municipalities therefore also need to budget and plan towards this purpose. The 2018 Skills Summit attracted approximately 350 people and for this year, arrangements are being made to accommodate 250 – 300 people.

For more information contact the GRDM’s Training and Development Section, Mr Reginald Salmons at 044 803 1363.