On May 8, Action Ads, the most distributed publication in Knysna, contained a full page advert taken out by T.A. Clarke, the self-claimed owner of a holiday home in Brenton-on-Sea, one of the town’s suburbs. In it, Clarke passionately stated that the quality of Knysna’s water is troubling and soundly criticised Knysna’s local government. You may recall my own diarrhea blog, ‘My Day of Tummy Hell in Knysna’.
This is what Clarke said:
Open Letter: To Residents, the Mayor [that would be Georlene Wolmarans] and the Town Council (Regarding Knysna’s Water)
The seconds ticked slowly past. It is late. Very late. Every moment another potential attack looms, the worst enemy, angry, violent silent. Fear grips every slight movement. It has been 5 hours of constant attack. When could the anger abate. This was not the first time it had come. There had been many over recent years and similar reports from friends and family. The Forest Marathon seemed to be a regular hunting ground.
Where did the attacker come from? As with these things there was always a mistake made. Perhaps at that wonderful bread shop a cube had slipped past. Perhaps in the shower a dribble had flowed in. One could never tell, but the stabbing pain and dreaded consequences were back. So what had caused this awful state? Knowing that an attack would come, why had a return to the lair of the killer even been contemplated.
Dear people of Knysna, you are a very proud and beautiful tourist town. But there are problems that I believe are a real threat to your livelihood and to jobs, one, in particular, is a silent killer. Many problems, as I’m sure that you are aware: unemployment, crime, a loss of the flavour of this once quaint town with the arrival of shopping centres that are the same as in every other town in South Africa.
Let me tell you what worries me most. I own a house in Knysna, Brenton-on-Sea to be specific. I have had the house 13 years and I am a loyal Knysna fan. In the last 5 years I , or my family members, have been violently ill virtually every time we visit. Many of our friends in the big smoke talk of similar issues and everyone knows that the water in Knysna makes water in India look healthy. Let me say it again: THE WATER IN KNYSNA IS VERY VERY BAD. If you live here, you get used to it and it is ok, though a risk to the ill, elderly or frail, I am sure. As a tourist, it is a violent attacker and ruins holidays one after another.
Can I prove my statement? No. I have done no tests. I don’t collect the water that comes out of my taps and have it analyzed. But I can imagine Gerrie Nell saying to a witness… “So the first time you thought it was bad luck, the second too, all the way to the tenth? Are you stupid? You travel all around the world but this only happens to you in Knysna? Each time you are ill the doctors seem to be diagnosing a row of other unfortunate tourists? Surely it is obvious, sir, the water is bad?”
So as one contemplates national and provincial elections, should one (later) vote for a council that has failed in this most critical and basic regard for so long? I think not. Should the people of Knysna get an answer to this scourge that will kill the tourist trade, house prices, employment and lead to more crime?
Demand answers from your mayor and council, those who are overseeing the demise of Knysna, South Africa’s favourite tourist town (or has that accolade slipped away forever?).
With kind regards, a cross and upset (here it goes again) tourist (written at 3am one wet and cold night).
Update: Lauren Waring, Knysna’s Municipal Manager posted a rebuttal the following week: “We refute Mr Clarke’s allegation with the contempt it deserves and wish to assure all residents of our commitment to deliver quality potable water.” Despite many adamant claims to Knysna’s good water, she never mentioned the old pipes that are continually breaking nor the brown water that residents often experience.
Poll: Is Knysna’s water and pipes good enough? Cast your vote at www.knysnakeep.org/polls-cast-your-vote.