Category: <span>Disaster Management</span>

Impact Based Weather Warning: Veldfire Conditions from 30/11/2022 to 01/12/2022

Impact Based Weather Warning –  Veldfire Conditions

Please find included the Impact Based Warning for the Western Cape and Namaqua Region of Northern Cape regarding Veldfire Conditions valid from 8:00 on 30 November to 18:00 on 1 December 2022, as follows:

Report any weather-related incidents to the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre at 044 805 5071.

ENDS


Legal notice:
“This warning from SA Weather Service must be communicated as received and may not be altered under any circumstance.
It must be forwarded or communicated in its entirety and no portion hereof may be replicated or copied and distributed.”

30 November 2022 Media Statement 1: Clean-up of Garden Route beaches underway

Media Statement: Clean-up of Garden Route beaches underway

For Immediate Release
30 November 2022

The Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Joint Operations Centre (JOC) hosted a meeting today with a number of key stakeholders to discuss the current state of the small-scale oil/hydrocarbons spill that was detected on some of the Garden Route beaches in the last day or two. The key objective is to mitigate the effects of oil droplets on the environment and marine life, as well as to promptly clean the temporarily closed beaches and re-open them before the holiday season.

Cleaning teams on the ground in Mossel Bay use a water filtration system to float off droplets of oil from exposed areas of sand collected from the affected beaches. This will be duplicated elsewhere where beaches are temporarily affected by the contaminants. In addition to this, estuaries that are currently open i.e. Hartenbos, Kleinbrak, Knysna, as well as Keurbooms, are closely monitored for any droplets.

The droplets are notably higher in density during high tide and their size of them differs per area. The Hessequa local municipality indicated that the ones found at the Gouritz beach were only the size of the head of a match, Bitou Municipality found 5mm size ones and  Mossel Bay found larger ones.

The way forward is for GRDM to have specialists from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, as well as South African National Parks, do a reconnaissance flight later today or early tomorrow morning (dependent on the weather), to scan the coastline from Gouritz to Plettenberg Bay. This will assist them to determine the origin of the spill as well as monitoring if any others are still en route to any of the Garden Route beaches.

While the clean-up and isolation actions are underway, beaches will be classified according to specific colour codes: green, orange, and red. These indicate the readiness of beaches for the public to access them again. The following beaches in the Mossel Bay municipal area have already been classified.

 

The various colour codes used at the moment.

An idea of how the density of droplets on beaches is linked to the colour-codes.

 

CAUTION

Members of the public are urged to stay pro-active by not walking on beaches that are closed or swimming in red or orange-classified beach areas until further notice. For those who mistakenly access areas where beaches are closed and come into contact with the oily substance, foot-cleaning stations will be set up. There is already one at the Hartenbos Blue Flag beach.

Possible cleaning methods if you do come into contact with oil droplets:

Step 1: Combine a teaspoon of baking soda and a quarter of a cup of normal white vinegar in a mixing bowl.

Step 2: Scrub your hands with the baking soda and vinegar mixture.

Step 3: After rinsing your hands in water, wash them with regular soap and water.

Or use a normal grease-cutting hand cleaner.

TOURISM

It is not likely that the temporary closure of some beaches will have an impact on the holiday season ahead. Cleaning of beaches are underway, and several beaches are ready to be re-opened again.

Next update: Another update will be issued tomorrow, 1 December 2022.

If any member of the public notices small black pellets on any beach along the Garden Route, please report it to the Emergency Call Centre, 044 805 5071.

The Garden Route District Municipality Joint Operations Centre includes the following stakeholders:  Garden Route District Municipality, Bitou, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay and Hessequa Municipalities, Provincial Disaster Management Centre, South African Maritime Association, DFFE: Oceans to Coast, Transnet, CapeNature, PetroSA, South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).

Impact Based Weather Warning: Veldfire Conditions from 28 to 29/11/2022

Impact Based Weather Warning –  Veldfire Conditions

Please find included the Impact Based Warning for the Western Cape and Namaqua Region of Northern Cape regarding Veldfire Conditions as follows:

Report any weather-related incidents to the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre at 044 805 5071.

ENDS


Legal notice:
“This warning from SA Weather Service must be communicated as received and may not be altered under any circumstance.
It must be forwarded or communicated in its entirety and no portion hereof may be replicated or copied and distributed.”

Impact Based Weather Warning – Yellow level 1: Damaging Winds on 23 November 2022

Impact-Based Weather Warning –  Damaging Winds

Please find included the Impact Based Warning for the Western Cape and Namaqua Region of Northern Cape.

Report any weather-related incidents to the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre at 044 805 5071.

ENDS


Legal notice:
“This warning from SA Weather Service must be communicated as received and may not be altered under any circumstance.
It must be forwarded or communicated in its entirety and no portion hereof may be replicated or copied and distributed.”

Impact Based Weather Warning – Veld Fire Conditions on 23 November 2022

Impact Based Weather Warning – Veld Fire Conditions

Please find included the Impact Based Warning for the Western Cape and Namaqua Region of Northern Cape.

Report any weather-related incidents to the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre at 044 805 5071.

ENDS


Legal notice:
“This warning from SA Weather Service must be communicated as received and may not be altered under any circumstance.
It must be forwarded or communicated in its entirety and no portion hereof may be replicated or copied and distributed.”

4 November 2022 Media Release: State-of-the-Art Regional Fire Station expected by June 2023

Media Release: State-of-the-Art Regional Fire Station expected by June 2023

For immediate release
4 November 2022

Wednesday, 2 November 2022, marked a major milestone for the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) when the first sod was turned for its regional fire station, which will be built on erven 22494 & 22495 (5 877 m2) in the Tamsui Industria area in George. Construction of the R11, 6 million fire station will commence on 15 November 2022 if the weather conditions permits. Of the grand total, R3 million was provided by the Western Cape Department of Local Government and George Municipality donated two properties, to be consolidated as one, as well as waived the development charges for the properties.

This historic event was attended by the region’s Executive Mayors, Municipal Managers, Chief Fire Officers, representatives of the principle agent which will oversee the construction process, representatives from the construction firm appointed to construct the facility, stakeholders in integrated fire management throughout the District, representatives from the Western Cape Department of Local Government (WCDLG) Disaster Management and Fire & Rescue Services , and most importantly, the 40 GRDM firefighters which will receive a lasting home from which operations will be based from. The facility will also have a specially incorporated component which will make provision for housing a specialised wildland firefighting ground crew.

During his address, Monde Stratu Municipal Manager referred to the day as the culmination of a very lengthy process, given the difficulties of engaging in supply chain processes and raising capital. He extended a word of gratitude to the George Municipality for availing the land for the long-awaited fire station, and for waiving the property’s service fees. “This is a demonstration that whatever happens in cooperative governments or societies, we have a responsibility to work together.”

Furthermore, Stratu thanked the WCDLG for contributing 3 million rand to assist GRDM towards the project. In his conclusion, he stated that the gathering served as a symbolic event where all stakeholders came together to witness and celebrate a regional fire station which will belong to the region.

Clive Africa, Executive Manager of the GRDM Community Services under which the Fire Services reside, provided an overview of the history, background and origin of the GRDM fire services, which were established by volunteers in 1987. Initially, there were 14 fire fighters who managed the entire Garden Route District in terms of Firefighting and Disaster Management.

In his opening remarks, Alderman Leon van Wyk, Mayor of George Municipality, expressed his gratitude to his Council for approving the decision to avail the land to GRDM. He referred to MM Stratu’s comments about the waiving of the development charges and explained that in his opinion, the development charges are a type of debate that all municipalities are grappling with – a contentious and complex matter.

According to Ald. van Wyk, the George Municipal Council has adopted a policy previously known as capital contributions that has escalated due to the revised land use legislation that was passed recently.  In accordance with legal advice to his Council, site-specific development charges should be investigated and municipalities had to develop a structure within those development charges to fund future infrastructure replacement costs. In closing, Alderman Van Wyk referred to the challenges of climate change in the world. He stated that according to scientists, the Garden Route is susceptible to wind damage and all the risks that come with it.

Colin Deiner, WCDLG Chief Director:  Disaster Management, informed the audience about the Western Cape Fire Service Capacity Building Grants offered by the Disaster Management Fire & Rescue Services.  He gave an overview of their origins and how grants are allocated each year.

Deiner explained that they assessed the number of trained firefighter’s municipalities have; as without the right people and the right training, it is of no use. He continues to explain, that in 2014, only 14% of firefighters in the Western Province were trained to the required level, but just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this number had gone up to 95%.  He mentioned the possibility of putting together a Garden Route District flood task-force. The idea would be to place an equipment cache in the Garden Route, in an attempt to train people from across the province and if a flood situation occurs in the Garden Route or another province needs assistance, help can be offered by trained people from across the province.

During his keynote address, Executive Mayor for GRDM, Ald. Memory Booysen commended the Executive Mayor of Hessequa Municipality with the following words: “Mayor Riddles, you are my hero. You are one of the few mayors who annually allocate funds for your fire department. Whether it is a hazmat vehicle, a LDV skid unit, or a ladder, there is always something in there for your fire department. This is something I admire about you, and I want to follow suit.”

He encouraged the ‘men and women’ in Disaster Management and Fire Services to continue to protect lives and property.  “Continue to be the toughest fire fighters in the Western Cape and in South Africa.”

During the vote of thanks, GRDM’s Deputy Executive Mayor, Advocate Gert van Niekerk said: “We are all part of history today; and in the years to come, we will be able to come here and tell whoever is here at the station that we were here on this historic day.”

He further said that the example set between the GRDM and its allies, the George Municipality and Provincial Government to ensure the success of this project, is a true road to follow in future joint-ventures to serve in the best interest of not only George, but the broader Garden Route District.  This is an example of what can be accomplished when a true commitment is shown between entities to work together.

According to Deon Stoffels, GRDM Chief Fire Officer, the long-awaited fire station is essential to the GRDM Fire Services in fulfilling its statutory mandate and diverse set of functions.  For the GRDM to have its own fire station is a considerable upgrade for the institution, especially one built according to required National Regulations and Standards for fire station buildings. The proposed state of the art fire station facility will be furnished with overhead automotive roll-up doors, a traditional firefighter sliding pole, a backup electricity generator, firefighters sleeping quarters and a fully equipped gym.  The facility will also be an investment in Council infrastructure and its asset base. “From the onset we also wanted to go the extra mile to provide firefighting staff with several additional features because they spend the majority of their days here, with the intent of ensuring their physical and mental well-being.”

-End-

13 October 2022 Media Release:  GRDM Disaster Management Section developed a GreenBook to plan for future climate change

Media Release:  GRDM Disaster Management Section developed a GreenBook to plan for future climate change

13 October 2022
For immediate release

As part of International Disaster Risk Reduction Day (IDRR), the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) focused on Climate Change adaptation. According to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, new risks will be prevented, and existing risks will be reduced. The document outlines seven targets and four priorities for action, including:

  • Understanding disaster risk;
  • Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk;
  • Investing in disaster reduction for resilience; and
  • Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

According to Gerhard Otto, GRDM Head of Disaster Management: “As part of a partnership with Santam and CSIR, GRDM recently launched a Greenbook, which is an open-access tool to support municipalities in planning climate resilient communities”.

“GRDM forms part of a national climate change adaptation initiative that has been launched in three provinces in South Africa,” said Otto.

The purpose of the Greenbook is to encourage resilient, sustainable, and liveable settlements by incorporating climate change adaptation into municipal development planning. The Greenbook provides an overview of current and likely future trends to the year 2050, related to settlement dynamics, climate hazards, and impacts that climate change will have on South African towns and cities. The tool is capable of linking every settlement risk profile to customizable adaptation actions also known as risk reduction initiatives that can be integrated into local strategies, programs and projects.

Furthermore, the GRDM recently updated its Disaster Risk Assessment and is able to use the tool to identify areas in need of urgent intervention. Not only does the tool provide an extensive overview of priority risks (current and future trends), it also provides disaster risk reduction initiatives recommendations to be considered and their likely impacts if implemented correctly.

In order to achieve the seven targets and the four priorities outlined in the Sendai Framework, the Greenbook has been launched. You can access it at http://greenbook.co.za/ .

All local municipalities in the region will be trained to incorporate climate change adaptation and promote climate resilient communities into their future development planning processes.

-End-

05 October 2022 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality applies for an Alien Vegetation Control Programme Grant

Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality applies for an Alien Vegetation Control Programme Grant

For Immediate Release
5 October 2022

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) has applied for a grant, through the Western Cape Government Provincial Treasury, to reduce the fire risk and improve the water supply. The proposed project, budgeted at approximately R29 million, will include a coordinated alien invasive species clearing, ecological restoration plan and community training programme. It is planned for the various catchments and rivers/tributaries and their habitats within the region.

GRDM Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen says that if funding is approved, the project will contribute to the integrated development of marginalised communities through income-generating invasive alien vegetation clearing projects.

“The GRDM and partners also plan to grow the community’s skills by enhancing their knowledge about identifying alien vegetation and clearing it,” he said.

More benefits of the proposed project include:

  • Restoration of ecosystem functions (i.e., nutrient cycling, habitat value);
  • Protecting biodiversity;
  • Initiating regrowth of indigenous plants;
  • Reducing fire risks;
  • Increasing water security;
  • Erosion control;
  • Enhancing tourism potential;
  • Restoring of wetland and estuarine functions;
  • Enhance tourism potential;
  • Improving agricultural potential of land (grazing and crops);
  • Long-term conservation of the mountain catchments, rivers, wetlands, and remaining natural; and
  • Facilitate the establishment of a positive working relationship between local communities and local government.

A lot of invasive alien plants (IAP) thrive throughout the Garden Route and its seven local municipal areas. Projections indicate IAPs could double within the next 15 years if something isn’t done soon. Such plants pose a threat to biodiversity, water conservation efforts, agricultural management and fire risk management.

Managing IAPs is based on two fundamental principles – acting early and following up. This includes initial control to drastically reduce the existing IAP footprint; and controlling seedling, root suckers and regrowth. Finally, maintenance to sustain low and decreasing IAP numbers will yield more positive results.

Dr Nina Viljoen, Head of Environmental Management says many alien plants consume more water than local plants, depleting valuable underground water resources, which results in additional fuel for veld fires. “Lower slopes, river floodplains and forest and scrub vegetation are largely invaded by species such as Acacia mearnsii and Acacia melanoxylon, amongst others, said Dr Viljoen”.

Alien plant invasions are estimated to have reduced mean annual runoff in the major rivers within the district by almost 20% by 2007 (Le Maitre et al., 2013).

Where to report Alien Invasive Species

Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) – Invasive Species Forum
Biosecurity Compliance
Call Centre: 086 111 2468
Website: www.environment.gov.za

Please also contact the below person for information on training and advocacy forums:
Kay Montgomery
National Invasive Species Advocacy Project (for the DFFE)
M: +27 82 659 0939
E: kay@wordlink.co.za

Below are some of the many invasive alien plants in the region:

 

Feature image: According to Dr Viljoen, Acacia melanoxylon (featured) and Acacia mearnsii have invaded many lower slopes, river floodplains, forest and scrub vegetation in the region.

ENDS

 

21 September 2022 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality celebrates Public Service Month through Service Delivery presentations

Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality celebrates Public Service Month through Service Delivery presentations

For Immediate Release
21 September 2022

In line with the country’s Public Service Month campaign, the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Corporate Services Department in collaboration with internal departments, are rolling out various activities to promote service delivery standards to the municipality’s external and internal audiences.

Recently, the municipality launched its e-recruitment systems and last week, on 16 September 2022, the GRDM Disaster Management and Fire Services representatives presented their operations to staff through a virtual platform hosted from the municipality’s Council Chambers.

Disaster Management Services

Gerhard Otto, GRDM Manager for Disaster Management, during his presentation explained that Disaster Management is a continuous and integrated multiple-sectorial, multi-disciplinary process of planning and implementation of measures aimed at:

  • preventing or reducing the risk of disasters;
  • mitigating the severity of consequences of disasters;
  • emergency preparedness;
  • rapid and effective response to disasters and they are also responsible for post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation of such disasters.

Disaster Management (DM) is a legislative mandate, Act 57 of 2002 as amended by Act 16 of 2015. In line with legislation, the function thus has to provide for an integrated and co-ordinated disaster management policy that focuses on:

  • preventing or reducing the risk of disasters
  • mitigating the severity of disasters
  • emergency preparedness; and
  • post disaster recovery and rehabilitation.

The Act furthermore provides for the establishment and functioning of national, provincial and municipal disaster management centres.

DM: Emergency Call Centre

Explaining the Garden Route’s Risk profile, Otto listed the following risks which the Garden Route district is prone to, namely veldt fires, various types of drought, flood disasters, landslides; epidemics, spills, to name a few. To ensure that all these disasters are properly coordinated, proper lines of communication have to be in place.

The Garden Route Emergency Call Centre with a staff component of seven, is the first line of communication for incidents that need to be reported to the District Disaster Management Centre.  Otto also boasted the capacity and competence of the centre as a fully operational Disaster Management Centre receiving ± 20 000 EMS calls and approximately 5 000 fire and municipal calls per month.

DM: Assistance provided to local municipalities

Otto furthermore explained how the Disaster Management team also assisted local municipality’s Disaster Management Units with the development of their ward based risk assessments as well as local disaster management plans and in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014, the team assisted local municipalities to declare disasters in their respective areas.

In 2017 they played a significant role in the coordination of all activities required due to the Knysna fires, as well as the fires that broke out in George in the following year.  Lastly, the team spear headed the District Covid-19 Command platform established after the national declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2022. The team coordinated the Covid-19 operations from the Municipal Joint Operation Centre that is located in the Garden Route municipal building in York Street George.

“Part of mitigating the effects of the disasters, Otto explained that Early Warning Systems have been put in place in order to communicate any severe weather early warnings to the public.  These include the municipality’s social media networks and e-mails to all Local Municipalities and response agencies/ role-players as well as ward councillors.

DM: Projects rolled out since 2017

Otto further explained that the Unit rolled out various projects since 2017, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the format of some of the projects changed to virtual engagements. These projects include the GRDM Volunteers Corps establishment, Rural Settlement Database, the Greenbook implementation, as well as CityRap implementation. He further explained that quite a number of accomplishments were made. “We have completed the mapping of priority wetlands and river ecosystems, we have established a District Food Pantry and reviewed and updated the Garden Route Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for 2022.  Adding to this Otto said that the team is currently busy with the revision and the updating of the Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme 2021. “We started with the clearing of invasive Alien Vegetation and we have reviewed and updated the Garden Route Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2022, to name a few. Much more are planned to be rolled out and implemented for the current Council term”, he said.

However, Otto admitted that there a still several challenges that still needs to be addressed, such as climate change, strategic water management planning, structured and integrated invasive plant and predator animal eradication, delivery equitable service to all populations groups, address poverty through job creation, etc.

In closing off his presentation Otto said that GRDM Disaster Management plans to: “Build the capacity at local authority level to pro-actively plan and implement mitigation as well as adaptation strategies and disaster risk reduction actions. This will limit the exposure to and the possible impact of future disastrous events”. Further to this he highlighted that the Centre envisages to build on the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) momentum, created with the Flanders funded project to attract further DRR funding from other possible sources i.e. Nedbank, SANTAM, etc.

GRDM Fire Services

Before introducing Deon Stoffels to all present, Trix Holtzhausen, GRDM Executive Manager for Corporate Services, congratulated him as the newly and permanently appointed Chief Fire Officer of the GRDM.

When starting his presentation, Stoffels clarified the role of the GRDM Fire Services and said that the District Municipality is responsible for veld, mountain chemical fires, which include hazardous materials spills and leakages. He further explained that there are certain components of the Disaster Management Strategy that is integrated and therefore in many instances implementable by the Fire Services Unit.

Stoffels said: “The GRDM Fire Services is a designated Fire Brigade Service that is established in terms of the Fire Brigade Services Act (99 and 1987 as amended).  The Service primarily focus on preventing the outbreak or spread of fires; fighting and extinguishing fires; the protection of life or property against a fire or other threatening danger; rescuing of life or property from a fire or other danger and any other function connected with these,” he said.

Their vision and mission, ultimately is to provide an efficient, cost effective, unprejudiced and equitable Fire Services to all citizens and visitors within the Garden Route District” he highlighted.

Together with this, Stoffels also emphasised the importance of creating awareness and educating the communities about the dangers of fire. He said: “GRDM Fire Service creates awareness of the dangers associated with fire in all communities and we furthermore educate Garden Routers, visitors and personnel alike to reduce the threats of fire”.

“We pride ourselves for informing, educating and creating awareness to rural, remote and particularly young children, as they naturally take the message home.’’ Adding to these, Stoffels said: “Developing and training personnel, ensuring that our assets and resources are managed and maintained, and our response time to attend to incidents are kept at the shortest possible time”.  The team furthermore record and document all emergencies and incidents that they attend to in an attempt to do further research and learn from it.

GRDM Fire Services has a staff component of forty-one (41) staff members/officers which are stationed at the main Fire base in George, as well as the Hessequa station based in Riversdale and the Kannaland station based in Ladismith.

Apart from fighting the usual fires, another new phenomenon was added to the team’s list of firefighting in 2020, when they had to fight a peat/underground fire for the first time in the Bergfontein, Albertinia area, for six weeks. He explained: “This is a phenomenon that is happening all over the world, but not often in South-Africa. When wetlands are compromised, it develops into a peatland,” he said. And, although it was a new experience for their team, Stoffels said that they all learnt immensely about the aspects relating to this type of fire as well as to how crucial a wetland and / or peatland are within the ecosystem. “In the past we would deem a fire to be halted at this particular point, but we now know that at all cost to prevent fires from burning here,” he said.

By continuing to deliver this service to the best of their ability, it cannot not be done in isolation. He said: “We are grateful to have good working relations with all our local municipalities, the South Cape Fire Protection Association, the Department of Forestry’s Fisheries & the Environment, the South African National Parks, Cape Nature, MTO Forestry, PG Bison Forestry, the Provincial Department: Directorate Fire Services and Working of Fire and we look forward to future collaborative fire services efforts to protect the people, properties and assets of the Garden Route district”.

The event was coordinated by the Corporate Services Executive Manager, Trix Holtzhausen in collaboration with the Community Services Department, under leadership of the Executive Manager, Clive Africa, who also attended the event. The next Public Service Month activity is planned to take place on Friday, 23 September 2022.

Did you know?

  • September marks Public Service Month in South Africa. Public Service Month (PSM) is an integrated strategic national event in the calendar of the Department of Public Service and Administration. The Public Service Month serves as a reminder of what it means to serve communities and to also look at the impact the government has, especially around issues of service delivery.
  • That GRDM Disaster Management Services continuously conduct First Aid training to members of the public as part of their annual awareness programme and is aimed at capacitating employed and unemployed Garden Routers to be able to save lives in any kind of emergency. The municipality has been providing First Aid Level 3 training since 2008 and to this point has trained more than 1700 community members. Each session takes place over a period of a week once per month and is facilitated by the GRDM Disaster Management officials at the municipality’s Head Office in George.
  • That the GRDM Fire Services, on a regular basis educate the communities about fire safety. These continuous initiatives form part of the GRDM Fire Services’ Fire Prevention and Fire Safety functions. Whilst the focus is placed on rural communities, businesses and schools within the residential areas are also assisted upon request.

5 August 2022 Media Release: GRDM Executive Mayor welcomes newly appointed District Commissioner of SAPS to the Garden Route district

Media Release: GRDM Executive Mayor welcomes newly appointed District Commissioner of SAPS to the Garden Route district

For immediate release
5 August 2022

On Wednesday, 03 August 2022, the Garden Route District Commissioner, Major-General Norman Modishana and his management had a meet-and-greet session with the Executive Mayor of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Ald. Memory Booysen, his Mayoral Committee, Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, as well the Senior Management of GRDM. The Provincial Commander of the Hawks, Major-General Mathipa Makgato and his delegation including Brigadier Mushavhaduvha Ramovha accompanied the District Commissioner and both unpacked their mandate and plans to fight/prevent and investigate crime.

From left are: Gerhard Otto, GRDM Manager: Disaster Management, Ald Gert van Niekerk, GRDM Executive Deputy Mayor, Major-General Mathipa Makgato, Provincial Commander of the Hawks, GRDM Executive Mayor, Ald. Memory Booysen and SAPS Garden Route District Commissioner, Major-General Norman Modishana, during the walk-through at the GRDM Disaster Management Centre. – Photo: SAPS

While addressing the delegation, Municipal Manager of GRDM, Monde Stratu extended a warm welcome to Major-General Modishana to the area and said that the GRDM will support SAPS to prevent and combat crime in the area. He said: “Whenever it is necessary, we will also avail the resources of GRDM to SAPS, including the Disaster Management Centre which is one of the best Disaster Management Centres in the Western Cape Province to assists SAPS in fighting crimes”. He also mentioned a few concerns daily experienced in communities. One being the issue of the operating of liquor outlets in the area and he specifically mentioned about the by-laws in relation to the operation and access times of liquor outlets, including access to liquor by the youth. Adding to these Stratu emphasised that these are some of the major issues that is continuously raised by communities.

In return, Major-General Modishana, who was appointed on 1 June 2022, gave a brief resume of his career and expressed his desire to maintain and improve partnership policing with the GRDM. “Policing is multi-disciplinary approach which everyone has to bring their part to ensure that everything is taking place in the interest of the organisation,” he said. He further admitted that the district has challenges and said: “I hope that as we will be dealing with those challenges, that we will manage them. Adding to this he said: “We must not lose sight and continue to go forward, because when the community looks at us as government structures, we want them to have confidence in us, so that they feel free and safe at the same time”. The issue of the country-wide pandemic, gender-based violence (GBV), was also discussed and the various forms of crimes that relate to it, such as rapes, assaults, murders to name a few. “As a district, we are taking GBV seriously and it will be dealt with to a level where it can be managed and minimised. I look forward to working with all our stakeholders of SAPS,” he highlighted.

Major-General Makgato explained the roles and responsibilities aligned with the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), also known as the Hawks, as enshrined in legislation. He mentioned that their role is two-fold; not only to investigate but also to educate. He urged the Municipal Manager and his senior management team to assist and cooperate with the DPCI, whether with investigation or awareness campaigns that will be rolled out in the near future. “There are certain expectations from the community and from government at large and our mandate is to investigate the national priority offences which deal with serious investigations, including corruption, commercial and organised crime investigations.” He further said that “we have all those competencies that have been established, although we are still doing our best to capacitate them.

Makgato also said that one of the responsibilities of DPCI, is not only to arrest, but also to educate. “By educating through awareness campaigns, we should be able to sensitise our people, because some will do it knowingly and some will say ‘we did not know’”. With regards to the support needed from stakeholders such as GRDM to roll out programmes, Makgato said: “We want the buy-in from the District Municipality, so when we begin with awareness campaigns, we would need your assistance”.  To Mayor Booysen he said: “I am grateful for the opportunity that you have provided to us and that you commit yourself to serve the people of the District without any favour, I am appealing to my office that is here, reach out and cooperate”.

Mayor Booysen thanked Major-General Modishana and Major-General Makgato and the SAPS delegation for their visit to the GRDM offices. He also extended a warm welcome to the District Commissioner after being appointed to serve the Garden Route. Mayor Booysen emphasised that communities, many times, do not understand the difference between SAPS and the Judiciary and the link between the two departments, but we appreciate the idea of the awareness campaigns planned for the area and as GRDM we would greatly assist. We are looking forward to strengthen the relationships with our stakeholders going forward,” he concluded.

Executive Deputy Mayor, Ald Gert van Niekerk thanked the delegation for their visit to the GRDM offices. He said: “Fighting crime was a function of SAPS for ages, but as a district municipality, we will assist. We need each other to serve our community, but preventing and the combatting of crime is none other than good service delivery; so let us maintain this course, let us keep our door open and let us do it”.

Representatives from Garden Route District Municipality, the Hawks and SAPS during the meet-and-greet session.

After the formal discussions, Gerhard Otto, Manager for Disaster Management at GRDM led a walk-through of the municipality’s Disaster Management Centre which was built approximately 15 years ago. Various emergency services link up with SAPS from the Disaster Management Centre, especially when there are disasters in the region and the Joint Operations Centre is activated.

ENDS