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Long Service

20 June 2023 Media Release: 8 000 Hectares more veld and mountain fires burned over the past 12-months

Media Release: 8 000 Hectares more veld and mountain fires burned over the past 12-months

20 June 2023

Throughout the past municipal calendar year, spanning from July 2022 to June 2023, the Garden Route district, including Hessequa, Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Bitou, Oudtshoorn, and Kannaland, has witnessed several wildfires. Deon Stoffels, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Chief Fire Officer, says a staggering 82 fires, including several wildfires, have ravaged the region since July 2022, leaving 23,848 hectares of land burned. Comparatively, although the previous year saw three additional wildfires between July 2021 and June 2022, the extent of the damage was slightly lower, with approximately 14,500 hectares consumed.

“It remains a priority for us to continue to address this concerning trend and prioritise fire management and prevention strategies to safeguard communities,” said Stoffels.

The major areas most affected by the past year’s wildfires included the Rooiberg Mountains in Van Wyksdorp, the Swartberg Mountains in Oudtshoorn, and Molenrivier (N9 South) in the George area. The primary cause of these wildfires was due to lightning strikes, which are typically prevalent during the January and February months.

As a wildfire blazed through the Molen River in January 2023, a thick blanket of smoke enveloped the air.

Stoffels said: “On one particular day, we experienced seven (7) lightning-induced wildfires”. He says firefighters swiftly responded to this critical situation by deploying rapid aerial firefighting techniques, successfully suppressing three of these fires. “We were able to suppress the remaining wildfires through a combination of ground and aerial firefighting.”

Deon also pointed to November 2022, when a significant fire outbreak occurred in the Hessequa municipal area. “This incident was triggered by a permitted fire that escalated beyond control.”

“During this time of the year, late October and November, the Hessequa area is prone to experience gusty and rapidly changing winds, which proved to be a challenge GRDM firefighters have since learned from.”


The top priority of GRDM’s Fire and Rescue Services Unit remains to implement proactive and preventative fire management strategies. Public education initiatives are central to this, which forms part of their risk reduction measures.

According to Stoffels, the Fire Danger Index, provided by the South African Weather Services, plays a crucial role in assessing risks and guiding planning and preparation efforts.

“We urge all landowners to consult with the Local and District Fire Services, as well as the Fire Protection Association, to obtain expert advice on reducing fire risks,” said Stoffels. “Adequate measures such as maintaining fire breaks, clearing alien vegetation, and ensuring safe prescribed burning practices are essential components of fire prevention.”

Regarding the implementation of Fire Breaks, the District is actively seeking funding to establish and maintain them on its properties. However, all Local Municipal Areas already have Fire Management Systems, including Permitted Burning Systems, aimed at reducing risks and supporting ecological and agricultural objectives.

GRDM places significant emphasis on enhancing its rapid response capabilities, including the deployment of aerial firefighting resources. This method has proven highly effective in dealing with remote and inaccessible wildfires. The measures prevent such incidents from escalating into large-scale and destructive events.

An important number to save: The emergency call centre of GRDM is linked to all the emergency call centres of the region and operates 24/7, 365 days a year – dial 044 805 5071 to report any fire incident.

Feature image caption: In November 2022, a devastating wildfire swept through the Spuithoek area, leaving a trail of destruction across dozens of hectares.


22 June 2021 Executive Mayor’s Speech a the GRDM Council Meeting

Executive Mayor’s Speech – GRDM Council Meeting on 22 June 2021

Thank you, Speaker, and thank you to all Councillors, colleagues and those listening to me via our Zoom platform.

May I please propose that we first start with the issuing of the long service award and afterwards continue with the business of the day? Today, we are very fortunate to hand over this award. I don’t know how our staff manages to do this. However, today, our colleague, Mr Nicolas Oosthuizen, has finished 40 years of service at this municipality. This is indeed a lifetime, and I think I might have still been in my diapers when Mr Oosthuizen started working here.

Mr Speaker, this handover is making us proud because there’s a belief that the longer staff remains within an institution, it is a sign that they are enjoying what they’re doing. It also indicates that Management is good. Of course, we know that the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) is not the perfect institution, but this is indeed an institution of knowledge with staff like Mr Oosthuizen.

Mr Speaker and colleagues, today is also another milestone for Council, as this is our last meeting for the financial year, and we’ve reached this point under very prying and challenging circumstances.  However, today, I can proudly announce that this municipality is in a good financial state, and administratively and politically in good hands in terms of cooperation and how we do things jointly, regardless of our different political parties – we have worked as a unit.

As you all know that every year during the month of June, we commemorate the devastating Knysna/Plettenberg Bay fires and all other fires that follow that.  We do not want to go back in terms of all the bad memories, the lives we’ve lost, property damaged, and everything that went with that historic fire, but we do have to reflect and had the commemoration event a couple of weeks ago.

Currently, our firefighters are out there, fighting wildfires, which could be similar or even worse than these fires. However, we want to acknowledge all efforts by the different municipalities and firefighters dealing with these matters.

We also want to recognise the communities for playing a crucial part in donating whatever assistance to the firefighters.  There has been an announcement on Eden FM this morning regarding drop-off points for donations such as energy bars, drinks, etc. A special word of gratitude to the community members with the necessary fire training, who volunteer and thus assisting our firefighters in fighting fires. We want to call for people to be vigilant and careful with anything that can course a fire.

When speaking about lives that changed forever, we as the Garden Route District Municipality have recently joined efforts to contribute to the Walk-A-Child to School campaign in partnership with Eden FM, Vodacom and the George Museum, a project of donating school shoes to vulnerable kids in our region.  We have almost reached the due date, and I would like to urge and remind those who have forgotten about this or who have budged to buy some shoes to please do so before the end of this month.   As we lead by example, I want to thank the Garden Route District Municipality’s professional staff who has already donated shoes to this cause.   We are all looking forward to seeing more donations come in as salaries are paid at the end of this week. May God bless those who because the Word of God says that “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and that is exactly what I want to speak over the lives of those who are part of this project.

A few months ago, I announced in Council that we are busy upgrading our resorts, particularly the Calitzdorp Spa.  We are now in the final part of phase one, whereby the roofs of the bigger buildings at our Resort are being replaced. I am as excited as I see some pictures of the turnaround and the new facelift of the Resort.  Today, I want to give a particular word of thanks to the Municipal Manager and his officials who are playing a special role in these upgrades. I am impressed with what I’m seeing, and I plan to visit the Resort tomorrow to feel it.  What I see is indeed a remarkable turnaround. Hopefully, it will go with a higher occupancy in the future. These kinds of things attract people. The more beautiful and comfortable a resort is, the more people it will attract.

As I keep on referring back to what we said in the past, this is an indication that we do not just talk, but we walk the talk as the Garden Route District Municipality. A couple of months ago, I announced that 19 students were enrolled as part of the Cater Care Hospitality project. It has come to my attention that on 10 June 2021, Alderlady Wolmarans and GRDM Officials witnessed these students graduation. I was also informed that the hospitality industry, hotel schools, and restaurants have already shown an interest in many students. Once again, Speaker, this is a small part of the puzzle of us wanting to become a Skills Mecca.  We are building all these skills required to make this happen, so Skills Mecca is definitely on its way. Yes, it will take some time, but we see the signs of starting small steps that will finish this marathon.  I want to congratulate all the students.

We are in the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic to the people of the Garden Route District.  We must guide ourselves against covid-19 fatigue and still need to adhere to all the protocols at hand by being constantly careful to curb the spread of the virus.  I am proud to say that again, as a District Municipality, we are leading by example by still using our zoom platforms for meetings and keeping our social distances in the Council Chambers.

Lastly, Mr Speaker, people might not understand this, but it is incumbent upon us as leaders, whether political or religious, being in an election year to encourage people, especially our youth, to go and register. Our youth is not registered, and this is a plea to the youth to go and register, so that you can go and raise your voice, represent your interest and become part of tomorrow’s decisions.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

22 June 2021 Media Release: GRDM Roads employee receives 40-year long-service award

Media Release: GRDM Roads employee receives 40-year long-service award

For immediate release
22 June 2021

This morning at the Council Meeting of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Nicolas Oosthuizen (better known as Nico) was awarded a long-service certificate for his work rendered to date, to the GRDM. Nico has been employed at the GRDM Roads Services Department for a forty (40) year period.

Oosthuizen joined the GRDM Roads team (Divisional Council at the time) in January 1981 and was initially appointed as General Worker. Today, Oosthuizen is a qualified Diesel Mechanic who specialises in earth moving and construction.  He started his training at the Western Cape Provincial Government in 2000 and obtained his qualification as a Diesel Mechanic in May 2003.

During an interview with Oosthuizen, he recalls that when he was appointed at the municipality, he was “very young and inexperienced during that time”. However, soon plenty of responsibilities started to rest on his shoulders. Due to his passion for his job, he has been able to persevere and push through, overcoming every obstacle in his way to achieve success. He said: “This is not a ‘clean job’, however, the best feeling I get while working for GRDM is when I am able to repair a vehicle and see it driving on the road again”. He further said:  “I am thankful to the Garden Route District Municipality for my years of tenure and that I can live my passion and contribute strongly to the services that the municipality renders to the Garden Route”.

Gerald Sinkfontein, Deputy Manager of Mechanical Services at GRDM, describes Oosthuizen as an exceptional individual and as a person with good interpersonal skills. His characteristics, respect and helpfulness towards others in the workplace, makes it a pleasure to work with him.

Dirk Krohn, Superintendent: Workshop for the George and Riversdale depots and supervisor of Oosthuizen,  remembers that when he started at GRDM Roads in 1999, Nico was already employed at the municipality.  “The two of us have good working relations. Reason being, he is a willing employee since he is optimistic about his work. For that, I’ve developed the greatest respect for him,” he said.  Lastly, Krohn noted that it is an honour to have Oosthuizen as part of their team as he is one of the longest-serving employees at the Roads Department, “and this is the reason why his colleagues have the highest respect for him!”

Congratulations Nico Oosthuizen!

We thank you for your loyal services to the Roads Department of GRDM.

Feature Photo: GRDM Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen (right), hands over the 40-year long service certificate to Nico Oosthuizen (2nd, right), in the presence of the GRDM Executive Manager for  Roads and Transport Planning, John Daniels (2nd, left) and Portfolio Chairperson for Roads and Transport Planning, Cllr Rowan Spies (left).


Employees Awarded Long Service Certificates

Long Service Certificates were awarded to various employees of Garden Route District today, 13 December 2019, during an Ordinary Council meeting. Some, but not all of the following employees, were able to attend the award ceremony.

Here are a few of of the employees who received recognition for being employed from to 10 to 40 years.