Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to footer


26 October 2023 Media Release: Executive Mayor of GRDM donates R10 000 to local athlete to participate in Ultra 2023 World Championship

Media Release: Executive Mayor of GRDM donates R10 000 to local athlete to participate in Ultra 2023 World Championship

For immediate release
26 October 2023

Executive Mayor of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Ald. Memory Booysen, recently donated R10 000 to local Backyard Ultra-Running athlete, Tembinkosi Sojola, to participate in the Ultra 2023 World Champions. The championship started on 21 October 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee in the United States of America and concluded on Wednesday, 25 October 2023.

In an update received from the Bayethe Multisport Academy, Sojola has achieved a remarkable feat by establishing a new South African and African Record. With the event that started off with 75, Tembi’s Race came to an end at lap 56 with a total of 368.83km after 2 days and 7 hours of running, he is now ranked 90th in the World.

Thirty-nine-year-old Sojola, a resident of George is, apart from his passion for the sport, also a husband and father of four (4).

Sojola annually also participates in the Comrades and Two Oceans Marathons.  The passion has fuelled his desire to participate in this world-class event, where he represented South Africa in the USA. This was the first event where he competed against other countries.

Myra Tisch, supporter of Sojola at the event, thanked all those who supported Sojola during the championship”. Tisch explained: “He had problems with his hip flexor for over 30-hours and pushed through the pain. There were several moments of doubt, but he trusted himself and his capabilities and pushed beyond even when the pain was there to stop him”.  Tisch described Sojola as an incredible athlete, beautiful person and hard-working family man. “Let us all thank the Lord above for protecting our friend/dad/husband through the biggest tribulation of his life!” Tisch concluded: “This is a time to rejoice his accomplishment”.

Mayor Booysen, on behalf of GRDM, wished him the best going forward especially with this achievement of now being ranked 90th globally.

Tembinkosi Sojola now holds the South African and African Record with an open invitation to the German Backyard Ultra in 2024.


26 August 2023 Media Release: Executive Mayor Alderman Memory Booysen Supports Local Learners’ Netball Dreams

Media Release:  Executive Mayor Alderman Memory Booysen Supports Local Learners’ Netball Dreams

For Immediate Release
26 August 2023

In a heartwarming display of community support and commitment to youth development, Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen, has generously donated funds to two promising learners from Bitou, Asanda Brakfesi and Lakheni Xuba. The beneficiaries, form part of the Eden Development Netball Team, and are ready to represent the region in the upcoming Western Cape Netball Festival.

Lakheni Xuba, a student at Plettenberg Bay Secondary School, and Asanda Brakfesi, who attends Murray High School, was selected to join their peers from George and Mossel Bay. The team, comprising two players from Plettenberg Bay, will be joined by six (6) additional athletes from Mossel Bay and two from George.

Ald. Booysen expressed his excitement at meeting Asanda and Lakheni in person today, during a brief gathering where they were introduced with Mrs. Rosie Mandeka, who will accompany the girls. The Executive Mayor congratulated the young athletes on their well-deserved selection for the Eden Development Netball Team and wished them the best of luck for this weekends Western Cape Development Netball Tournament scheduled to take place in Cape Town.

“I am incredibly proud of the talent exhibited by Asanda Brakfesi and Lakheni Xuba,” said Alderman Booysen. “Supporting their journey in the Eden Netball Team is not only a testament to their hard work, but also a demonstration of our commitment to nurturing local talent and enabling our youth to excel in sports.”

The GRDM remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering a culture of excellence, empowerment, and inclusivity among its youth.


19 July 2023 Media Release: Garden Route DM rolls out various activities before and on Mandela Day

Media Release: Garden Route DM rolls out various activities before and on Mandela Day

For Immediate Release
19 July 2023

While the world celebrates the life of an icon, the late President of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, employees of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) also followed his example to reach out to vulnerable community members throughout the region.

GRDM kicked off their activities on 17 July by hosting a pre-Madiba Day blood donation drive at its head office in George in collaboration with the Western Cape Blood Service. The GRDM also invited the public to donate blood, which resulted in just over 50 blood donations being made.

The Oudtshoorn Municipal Health Office donated nutritious and delicious ‘food socks’ to two families in the Buffelsdrift rural area of Oudtshoorn. Food socks contain pasta, rice, flavourings, stock powders, herbs, spices, dehydrated vegetables, pulses, beans, and soy products. GRDM officials bought the socks. The donation will provide food for eight beneficiaries for a week. The two families extended their appreciation to the GRDM officials for providing them with food.

The Oudtshoorn Municipal Health Office donated ‘food socks’ to families in Buffelsdrift.

Planning and Economic Development Department officials, comprised of the EPWP, Tourism and Local Economic Development, and Human Settlements sections, took Madiba Day activities to a new level when they rolled out the following activities at Kusile Baby Care in Thembalethu. In the morning, they divided themselves into different groups. The first group painted the outside walls of the school building with a primer. After that, others begin painting the building with a beautiful topcoat colour. Other officials, who are much more handy with a hammer and nails, installed PVC ceilings. Some of the female colleagues spent time reading and feeding toddlers and newborns. While others prepared a ‘braai’ lunch for the children and their educators. The daycare center also received a coat from officials.
GRDM Planning and Economic Development officials installing PVC ceilings and feeding toddlers at Kusile Baby Care in Thembalethu.

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) of Garden Route District Municipality’s Wilderness region celebrated Mandela Day with 60 children from Klipdrift Primary School. The EHPs painted a classroom and supplied colourful tires to improve the playground area. EHPs also shared slices of cake and snack parcels with each child, while they also played games and shared the importance of giving back to others.
EHP officials of GRDM shared cake with children from Klipdrift Primary School and improved their playground.

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Firefighters proved that they can do more than fight wildfires and protect communities. They made sandwiches and distributed them with cool drinks to homeless people in George’s Shoprite parking lot.

GRDM Firefighters sharing sandwiches and cool drinks with homeless people in George.

Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Office of the Municipal Manager, donated 51 pairs of shoes and funds to Mzoxolo Primary School. The shoe donations sprout from the Walk a Child to School campaign and included more staff donations too. The school is already collecting small donations from learners on Fridays to buy shoes for those who are in need. Principal Raymond Eagan thanked the GRDM for the shoe donations and funding. He said: “Our school is home to 1554 bright minds and 42 dedicated teachers.” Learners are mainly from Borchards, Thembalethu, Maraiskamp, Parkdene, and Lawaaikamp. The Principal also said the school’s name, Mzoxola, means “a beacon for peace,” and it was established in 1994 by Naledi Pandor.

Officials of the Office of the Municipal Manager GRDM donated 51 pair of shoes and funds to Mzoxolo Primary School in Lawaaikamp.


30 May 2023 Media Release: Alderlady Ndayi supports Early Childhood Development in Kurland


For Immediate Release
30 May 2023

The principle, educators, and toddlers were all delighted with the new equipment given to the school by GRDM Councillor, Alderlady Ndayi.

Alderlady Ndayi, Mayoral Committee Member and Portfolio Chairperson for Community Services at Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), demonstrated her unwavering commitment to early childhood development by handing over toys, educational materials, and necessities to Kurland Educare Education in Ward 1 of the Bitou local municipality.

This initiative comes as a result of the GRDM Council who allocated 50 thousand of his annual grant to each Mayoral Committee Member. Alderlady Ndayi recognised the pressing needs of Kurland Educare Education, a créche catering to 80 children, who are currently facing challenges in securing sponsors.

Understanding the critical importance of a strong foundation in a child’s educational journey, Alderlady Ndayi expressed her personal connection to early childhood development. She firmly believes that laying the groundwork correctly is vital for the holistic development and future success of every child.

By providing toys, educational materials, and necessities, Alderlady Ndayi hopes to see the learning environment at Kurland Educare Education improve. The donated items will not only support the children’s educational growth but also contribute to their overall well-being.

Alderlady Ndayi’s commitment to early childhood development reflects the GRDM’s dedication to creating a nurturing and supportive environment for the youth. Through such initiatives, the municipality strives to empower communities and ensure equal opportunities for every child.

18 April 2023 Media Release: Small Steps, Big Impact: Kids receive much needed school shoes

Small Steps, Big Impact: Kids receive much needed school shoes

For immediate release
18 April 2023

On Wednesday, 11 April 2023, stakeholders of the Walk-a-Child-to-School campaign, school principals and learners gathered at the Conville Civic Hall in George to launch this year’s annual event.  The campaign has been in existence for three years. Last year, 14 schools benefited from the campaign. This year, more than 20 schools received 40 pairs of shoes each.  These figures indicate the substantial growth of the campaign since its inception.

Stakeholder representatives at the event, include (From left): Nomonde Makhubalo (Eden FM, Radio), Queeny Diko (Vodacom), Cllr Jerome Lambatjeen (Portfolio Chairperson for Strategic Services, GRDM), Alderman Memory Booysen (Executive Mayor, GRDM), and Ntombi Kulati (RAF).

During the event, the Executive Mayor of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Alderman Memory Booysen, handed over school shoes to more than 20 schools in the Garden Route district. The collaborative initiative is annually rolled out by GRDM, Eden FM, Vodacom, the George Museum, the Road Accident Fund (RAF), as well as the Garden Route Mall, again. This group of stakeholders work towards a corporate social responsibility vision aimed at changing the lives of the most vulnerable school-goers. Also, the project aims to restore the dignity of human beings.

Nomonde Makhubalo, Marketing Manager of Eden FM, gave an overview of the project at the event and said that this project is growing fast as the campaign is donating shoes to 21 schools this year”. Adding to this she said: “Last year we had a target of 10 school, but we donated shoes to 14 schools instead – this campaign is all about “Umntu ngumntu ngabantu,”’ she said. In addition, the Programme Director of the event, and Station Manager of Eden FM, Morne Pietersen, extended a word of gratitude to all partners who put their hands in their pockets,” to make another success of the campaign this year.  Queeny Diko, Cluster Specialist for Eden Country at Vodacom and Ntombi Kulati, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Road Accident Fund also shared messages of their continued support at the event.

Teachers and learners receive the shoes on behalf of their schools during the event.

When finally handing over the donations to the principals of the schools, Executive Mayor of GRDM, Alderman Memory Booysen, stressed that “children really need these shoes”. Mayor Booysen also explained why the items are distributed from February to April every year and said: “If we were to hand over the shoes in December, everybody will raise their hands, as well as those parents who are able to afford shoes for their kids – only later, in the beginning of the following year, we are able to see what children are truly in need – by that time, they would still not own a pair for themselves,” he added. Apart from the shoe initiative, he said that girls also are faces with other challenges. “The GRDM is already in discussions with other potential stakeholders regarding this possible new addition to the campaign. We are hopeful that next year this time, this addition will furthermore address those challenges that girls struggle with,” Mayor Booysen said.

To the men present he said: “Gone are the days that women must fight their battles alone. We as men must be part of the battles that our sisters and mothers are facing” To the men he said: “Gone are the days that we must struggle with our own issues”. As Makhubalo, Mayor Booysen also echoed the words of the lyrics sang by the late musician Brenda Fassie: “Umntu ngumntu ngabantu – Ons is wie ons is deur ander mense”.

In closing Mayor Booysen said: “We are going to walk the walk with you; we are going to put rubber on gravel with you”.


07 March 2023 Media Release: Your breast milk is a lifeline to a small baby

Media Release: Your breast milk is a lifeline to a small baby

For immediate release
07 March 2023

Donating breast milk is one of the greatest acts of generosity and kindness. It is an expression of standing in solidarity with other moms who don’t have enough breast milk to feed their babies and for those moms who simply can’t produce any breast milk.

March 1 to 7 is Human Milk Banking Week and is dedicated to imploring breastfeeding women to donate their breast milk.

Breast milk plays an important role in the health journey of the new-born, especially premature babies, and as part of the First Thousand Days Initiative it is important that all babies reap the benefits of breast milk.

Beaudine Kennedy (28) gave birth to her premature baby girl, Mileah Kennedy, with a weight of 850 g at George Hospital. Mom Beaudine has been struggling to produce her own milk and the little she can produce is mixed with donor breast milk to feed her baby. It has been an emotional journey for Beaudine knowing her baby is receiving milk from another mom. ‘It is something I struggled to come to terms with. I am her mom and I should be able to breastfeed her,’ she added. With the emotional and physical support from the staff at George Hospital, Beaudine soon realised that there are many benefits to providing her baby with donor breast milk. These benefits include a healthy digestive system, protects her baby from diseases and infections and healthier weight as she grows.

The amount of donor milk received at George Hospital monthly varies. ‘There are times when we have a specific donor who donates for three months providing our unit with a lot of milk, and then there are times that we have to request for moms to donate milk either from moms in our Neonatal Unit, staff or the public,’ said Sr Thomas.

According to nurse Joseline Thomas (George Hospital, Neonatal Unit) ± 50 babies are born prematurely every month and are admitted to their unit.

Babies born with a weight below 1 kg receive 0.1 ml of milk every 4 to 6 hours, and babies who weigh more than 1 kg receive 50 ml of milk every 3 hours or 12 ml every two hours, all dependent on the weight, health, and age of the baby.

Moms who would like to freely share their love and donate breast milk, can contact George Hospital and arrange a time to come in, get tested for HIV or any other underlying conditions, and give consent in order to donate. This involves a process of screening, and donor milk is tested and pasteurized to ensure donor milk is safe for medical use. ‘For first-time donors, it is standard procedure for moms to come in and get tested. After their breast milk has been tested and they qualify to become one of our donors, they get a donor number,’ Sr Thomas added. By donating breast milk to families who need it the most, you are making a difference in the lives of others and making an immeasurable difference in the lives of infants and children.

‘I am extremely grateful and proud that other moms are helping my baby. I’m really thankful to you because you are saving my baby’s life and many other infants’ too,’ mom Beaudine said.

Photo Caption: Baby Mileah and Mom Beaudine Kennedy are thankful to breast milk donor moms.


27 January 2023 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality donates mattresses to Kleine Handjies Crèche in Uniondale

Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality donates mattresses to Kleine Handjies Crèche in Uniondale

For immediate release
27 January 2023

An Early Childhood Development (ECD) facility is required to create a suitable and comfortable environment for all toddlers enrolled at it. A safe sleeping area for toddlers is an integral part of a suitable environment. To ensure that these spaces are comfortable enough to provide a healthy sleeping routine, items such as mattresses are regarded as essential items for a toddler.

GRDM Chief Fire Officer, Deon Stoffels (right) and Senior Firefighter and Acting Station Officer: Fire Safety & Training, Devonia Cupido (2nd, right), as well as caretakers and toddlers of Kleine Handjies Creche, with the mattresses.

Caretakers and toddlers from the “Klein Handjies Crèche” in Uniondale were pleasantly surprised, last week Friday, when they received a visit from Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) officials who donated twenty (20) mattresses to the crèche.

Crèche principal, Chanell Jumat, extended words of appreciation and gratitude to the GRDM Chief Fire Officer, Deon Stoffels and Senior Firefighter and Acting Station Officer: Fire Safety & Training, Devonia Cupido, who delivered the items. She admitted that the daycare facility had many needs, of which mattresses were one of them. “We are extremely thankful for the GRDM who reached out to us, especially our toddlers. We want each child to enjoy a safe and comfortable environment where they receive the care they deserve”. Adding to these words, Jumat said: “There are times when I feel that we are the forgotten ECD facility, as we have many needs that still need to be addressed and today, I am thankful for these essentials,” she said.

The GRDM officials also used the opportunity and offered a refresher session to the toddlers and caretakers about the importance of fire safety and important tips related to it.

“Kleine Handjies Crèche” was established in 2018 and currently accommodates fifty (50) toddlers of the Uniondale area. Although the facility has the capacity to accommodate ninety (90) toddlers, a long list of needs still need to be addressed. This includes daily meals, toiletries, stationary, tables and chairs for the toddlers to have the ideal and suitable environment where they can be prepared for the next phase of their education.

If you would like to donate to this crèche, contact Chanell Jumat at 066 3381 748.

18 November 2022 Media Relese: Garden Route District Municipality supports Thembalethu Neighbourhood Watch

Media Release:  Garden Route District Municipality supports Thembalethu Neighbourhood Watch

For immediate release
18 November 2022

On Tuesday, 15 November 2022, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), as the ‘parent holder’ of the Transfer Payment Agreement Grant between the Western Cape Department of Community Safety and local municipalities in the district, handed over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Thembalethu Neighbourhood Watch. Items included torches, batons and two-way radios.

GRDM was approached by the Thembalethu Area Based Team (ABT), formed by various community structures in Thembalethu, who requested assistance due to the high crime rate in the area for the neighbourhood watch. A request for PPE was received later during a Neighbourhood Watch and Community Forum (CPF) Indaba held.

Advocate van Niekerk, the Executive Deputy Mayor of GRDM, handed over the 90 batons, 20 two-way radios, and 20 torches to the Chairperson’s of the different sectors within the Thembalethu Neighbourhood Watch. The items valued at twenty thousand rand (R20 000). In his remarks, Advocate van Niekerk thanked the members of the Thembalethu Neighbourhood Watch for their commitment and willingness to stand out and take the lead. “To sit at home and point fingers, to complain, to ‘moan and groan’, is always the easy route, but the most difficult part is to wake-up in the early hours and to go out on patrol and to make sure your neighbourhood is safe – that makes you heroes,” Van Niekerk said.

Representatives from the Western Cape Department of Community Safety, the Deputy Executive Mayor of the GRDM, Advocate Gert Van Niekerk, members of the GRDM Mayoral Committee, the Executive Members of the Thembalethu CPF, the chairpersons and secretaries of the three sectors of Thembalethu Neighbourhood Watch and the South African Police Service were in attendance.

30 August 2022 Media Release: GRDM Councillors and officials visit establishments in the Hessequa area

Media Release: GRDM Councillors and officials visit premises and establishments in the Hessequa area

For immediate release
30 August 2022

On Monday, 22 Augustus 2022, a Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) delegation visited various premises and sites within the Hessequa region (Heidelberg and Slangrivier) to establish shortcomings,  evaluate standards of municipal health services delivered, as well as to hand over sanitary towels to learners. Community Services Portfolio Committee members, Ald. Nompumelelo Ndayi, Cllrs Jobieth Hoogbaard and Cobus Meiring, Executive Manager, Clive Africa for Community Services, Manager for Municipal Health and Environmental Management, Johan Compion, and officials from the Hessequa Region formed part of the delegation.

Municipal Health Services as defined in the National Health Act, 2003 includes the following Key Performance Areas of which these visits are applicable to: Water Quality Monitoring, Food Control, Solid Waste Management, Health Surveillance of Premises, Supervision and Prevention of Contagious Diseases (excluding Immunization), Vector Control, Environmental Pollution Control, Disposal of Human Remains and the Safe handling of Chemical Substances.

The team visited three (3) crèches, a soup kitchen, a high school, a spaza shop and an illegal dumping site. By visiting these facilities/premises Councillors were afforded the opportunity to understand how the interventions of Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) assist these establishments to comply with relevant By-Laws and/or legislation. Ongoing monitoring and health and hygiene education by the EHPs enable them to implement measures to address the gaps in line with the Key Performance Areas for Municipal Health Services.

During the visits, Haemish Herwels, Chief: Municipal Health for the Hessequa region,  and Marchelles Hurling, Environmental Health Practitioner, explained the inspection procedures and the issues of importance.

Child care facilities – Herwels reiterated the importance of allowable floor space, which dictate the number of children that can be accommodated at childcare premises. According to the relevant norms and standards, 1.5 m² must be available for each child.  Furthermore he explained that the compliance to the prescribed number of toddlers and proper ventilation can minimize the spread of diseases within the classroom setting.

When visiting another crèche in the area it was observed that space was a real challenge. Crèche principle, Petro Joseph, informed the delegation that due to the number of toddlers currently registered at the facility she is in the process of expanding the facility to ensure, not only compliance to the GRDM By-laws, but also promoting the health and safety of all their toddlers.

Herwels also explained that EHPs visit these facilities on a regular basis to evaluate the hygiene standards of classrooms, bathrooms, outside play areas and the kitchens of those facilities who prepare meals for the toddlers

Visit to Slangrivier High School – Visiting Slangrivier High School was the highlight of the event when Cllr Ndayi and the team handed over two hundred (200) packs of sanitary towels to learners. When she took the items into acceptance, Raymondi Saayman admitted that not having these items makes it difficult for learners to attend school, which has a detrimental impact on their overall academic performance. She extended a messages of appreciation to the Garden Route team for the generous donation. With August being Women’s month Ald. Ndayi, said “While we are celebrating Women’s Month, we hope that these products will help restore the dignity of our female learners, as they will be our leaders of tomorrow”.

Illegal Dumping – The team visited certain sites along Eikeweg where illegal dumping has become a major problem. Herwels explained that the EHP’s conduct regular inspections of formal and informal settlements to monitor illegal dumping, as part of Waste Management which is listed as a key performance area,  as these sites if not managed, create favourable conditions for the breeding of flies and rodents which can contribute to the spread of diseases. When illegal dumping is brought under their attention, it is immediately communicated to the Hessequa Municipality. Furthermore Herwels mentioned that currently they have a good relationship with the Hessequa Municipality, as such that when issues are communicated it is addressed immediately.

Spaza Shops Spaza shops, over the years have become the life-line of informal economic development which has become significant in our communities across the country. These shops are mostly situated in residential areas and customers therefore do not have to travel far to purchase essential goods, especially in case of emergencies.

Although it has its benefits of easy access, these shops must comply with all the requirements as stipulated in the Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises and the Transport of Food and Related Matters R 638 of 22 June 2018, to ensure that customers enjoy a convenient, but mostly a healthy shopping experience. Regular inspections are conducted by the EHPs to ensure compliance with the regulation and food samples are taken from time to time to monitor the bacteriological and chemical quality of products. One such spaza-shop is Corner Shop, situated in Heidelberg. When the Garden Route delegation entered the shop, they immediately observed the neatness of the shop with food products that were labelled properly. Marcelles Hurling, the EHP responsible for Heidelberg and Witsand areas, gave an overview of how the inspections are conducted and the intervention taken to ensure compliance to the Regulation. He furthermore explained that constant hygiene and food safety training have an enormous influence on the tidiness of Spaza shops, of which Corner shop is a good example.

Soup Kitchens – A touching moment was to see how Aunt Catherine, together with her assistants prepared a hearty meal for the vulnerable members in her community.  When arriving at the soup kitchen, adults and kids were already queuing to receive their warm soup. Cat’s Kitchen provides meals to almost 100 people per day, three days a week. Catherine said: “We started very small, and at a point I was able to register the soup kitchen and from there onwards, various people came on board including councillors and family members, who helped me to be able to provide these meals”. Adding to this, she said: “We are grateful to the group Unspoken for their assistance with the capturing of the beneficiaries’ names when they collect their meals. With this we can determine who the most vulnerable is in the community”.

Ablution facilities – The team furthermore visited Donald Square, an informal settlement in Heidelberg.  According to Herwels, EHPs conduct regular inspections  in the area, to evaluate the structural requirements of toilet facilities and the hygiene aspects thereof.  A major aspect that is also monitored is the issue of illegal dumping.

While addressing the team, in closing, Cllr Ndayi, said: “For the current GRDM Community Services Portfolio Committee it was our first visit to the premises where our Municipal Health Service perform their duties and it has been an inspiring experience to see how thankful these establishments’ representatives were towards GRDM”. Adding to this she highlighted: “Being accompanied by my colleagues Cllrs Meiring and Hoogbaard, as well as the Head of the Department and the team who work closely with these establishments, showed their true commitment and passion for the communities of the Garden Route”.

Feature Photo: Before leaving Cat’s Soup Kitchen in Slangrivier fo their next stop, Aunt Catherine insisted that each member of the GRDM delegation enjoys a warm cup of soup. 


31 May 2022 Media Release: 32 Small Businesses benefitted from the Garden Route District Municipality’s SMME Support and Development Programme

Media Release: 32 Small Businesses benefitted from the Garden Route District Municipality’s SMME Support and Development Programme
For immediate release
31 May 2022

As small businesses are the backbone of the economy, the government has introduced various forms of relief to help Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A good example of this is when the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Council resolved, four years ago ‘to put their money where their mouths are’ by supporting and investing tangibly in SMME’s of the Garden Route. With a mentorship process funded by the GRDM, specific business needs were identified through one-on-one business assessments.

This resulted in the GRDM Economic Development and Tourism Departments SMME Support and Development Programme being introduced during the 2019/20 financial year (1 July 2019 – 30 June 2020). This Programme was initiated and is coordinated by the GRDM Economic Development and Tourism Department. Other stakeholders, such as the Department of Agriculture (DoA); Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT); Small Enterprises Development Agency (Seda), the Economic Development Partnership (EDP) and local municipalities in the district played a critical role in driving this.

In the past year, the GRDM Council allocated R682 000.00 from its budget to assist SMMEs in the district to grow their businesses. Small businesses were invited to submit proposals as part of the selection process. An advertisement was placed in the regional newspapers, social media and the municipal website.

An Adjudication Committee, representing various stakeholders, reviewed the all the business proposals received and made recommendations. These recommendations were subsequently approved, which led to a formal handover ceremony.
Thirty-two (32) SMMEs from across the Garden Route received much-needed equipment from the GRDM stakeholder partnership on Thursday, 26 May 2022. The GRDM Deputy Executive Mayor, Adv. Gert van Niekerk, members of the GRDM Mayoral Committee, Local Economic Development (LED) managers of the local municipalities in the district, and various stakeholders attended the ceremony.

The program was officially opened by Ald. Iona Kritzinger, GRDM Portfolio Chairperson of Corporate Services. With a special welcome to the thirty-two beneficiaries, she expressed her hopes that the equipment they received would add value to their businesses and help them to thrive.

Ald. Rosina Ruiters, GRDM Portfolio Chairperson of Planning and Economic Development Services, presented a brief overview of the SMME Support and Development Programme. She announced that the GRDM Council has invested R 2.1 million in the programme over the years and has supported 65 small businesses in the process.

The program director of the event and the Acting Executive Manager of the Planning and Economic Development Department, Ms Melanie Wilson, commended the small business owners for their endurance and strength; and encouraged them with a quote from the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Ms Wilson rendered a special word of acknowledgement and appreciation to the partners involved by saying, “As government we cannot function on our own; we need partnerships to be successful. With this project we’ve realized that in order to change the lives of our people and to make an impact, we need to build partnerships.” Wilson stated. GRDM signed an agreement with Casidra to execute the procurement process of the items on behalf of the District, which was exceptionally well managed.

A message of support for the partnership was delivered by Mr David Nefdt, Acting CEO of Casidra. He explained that Casidra believes that entrepreneurship is the only way to ensure that people have jobs, that there is food on the table, and to address the challenges in our communities.  “There are not enough businesses that can create jobs, so the only way is to start new ones. Casidra wants to be part of this dream of establishing local businesses in the Garden Route District,” he said.

Mr Nefdt gave a brief overview of Casidra’s mandate and function and said that according to his understanding, government needs to do more to foster an environment for entrepreneurs to flourish by making it easier for small businesses to survive. He challenged the small businesses present with the following words, “You need to innovate unity; look at the cracks in your community and see if you can come up with something that can address the needs of people in your community. Let us all create an environment that encourages businesses to grow and be creative and innovative in addressing the needs of all people,” Nefdt concluded.

The keynote address was delivered by Ald. Gert van Niekerk, who explained the various aspects on how the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in business closures, job losses, and declining business profits. Accordingly, the GRDM signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Economic Development & Tourism and SEDA with the objective of supporting SMME development in the Garden Route and thus make a crucial impact.

Van Niekerk explained that by initiating and implementing the SMME Support and Development Programme, the Council believes that the assistance granted to the thirty-two (32) SMMEs will make a significant contribution to the sustainability and expansion of their businesses. “We hope that you will continue to create jobs and that your businesses will grow. We salute you!” Cllr van Niekerk concluded.

Two (2) beneficiary SMME’s, Ms Tabita Williams from Ludify Suppliers and Ms Siphesihle Bobo from Sihle Fitness Academy, gave an overview of their respective businesses and thanked the GRDM and partners for firstly believing in them, and secondly for providing equipment and support to SMME’s in the district.

During the vote of thanks, EPWP Manager for the GRDM, Mr Richard Dyantyi, thanked the GRDM Council for their commitment to small businesses in the district. Dyantyi further thanked Casidra as a ‘driving partner’ as well as the other stakeholders involved and the GRDM Team for their commitment in making the programme a success.

At the end of the formalities, the Project Manager of the Programme, Mr Johannes Jafta, together with the GRDM Mayoral Committee, handed over equipment and material to the thirty-two (32) SMMEs.

Upon receiving the equipment, the SMMEs are required to sign a contract in which they agree not to sell the equipment donated to them. As part of the monitoring and evaluation process, GRDM officials will be required to regularly access the premises of all beneficiaries to view the equipment and assess each business’s growth.