There’s a long list of Knysna Fire victim necessities but this is what I most want:
1. Meaningful interaction with rentees who lost everything, the supplying of accommodation or subsidising of accommodation that we cannot afford.
2. For the Municipality to work with private donation groups who have the best ideas e.g. Knysna Families in Need, the possibility of the Lions establishing a permanent disaster centre in Knysna servicing Eden District.
3. Determined investigation and prosecution of municipal employees involved in large scale theft from donation depots.
4. Investigation into the allegation that Sedgefield Fire Station long failed to attend to a fire in Elandskraal which, when strong winds arrived, became a major disaster source.
5. Eradication of illegal municipal appointees who played major roles during the Knysna Fire (Director Community Services, Communications Manager, Firemen). We must have confidence in our leadership!
6. A builders/contractors list that includes details such as price per square metre of brick type. I encourage locals first but if they charge more than an outsider then they’re hating our town and thus don’t deserve support e.g. some builders are better than others but it’s insane that, last year, when I enquired on behalf of my father for a 100m2 house, that quotes ranged from R700,000 to R2.3-million. Prices shouldn’t be determined by skin colour or how rich a builder thinks the prospective homeowner is. I’d be very happy with an RDP/BNG styled house in Knysna central.
7. Urgent landslide assessment for Kanonkop, Knysna Heights and White Location.
8. Rebates/assistance not only for the rebuilding of destroyed homes but for new housing too. Let’s solve the rental crisis that existed before the fire, amplified now. This must include integrated flats with rent control and/or fire victims receiving subsidised rentals for a determined period e.g. 3 years.
9. Eradication of alien vegetation beginning with a clampdown on property agents disobeying the law.
10. Real communication that assures Knysna Municipality is atop of challenges. This must include updates from the various disaster committees that have been operating outside public view. The Communications Department must work with me, stopping its private agenda on behalf of corrupt politicians and municipal officials. During the fire, it should’ve been essential for the Municipality to deal directly with local social media groups who tried hard to assist friends and town.
11. A fire timeline detailing how, where and when resources were allocated.
Yesterday, I met separately with Councillor Velile Waxa and Deputy Mayor Peter Myers – that’s more productive than being shut out. We found it encouraging that Minister Human settlements Lindiwe Sisulu was in Knysna. I’m not privy to their discussions but it appears that President Jacob Zuma is acting on his statement to help. With added Provincial and local assistance, our town can become stronger than before. We must grasp this unique opportunity.
This year, particularly Winter, will be tough. There’s hope but it must become reality more quickly.
Fire victims, what do you want?