KNYSNA NEWS - We should all be eternally thankful to Father Christmas for not cancelling Christmas in Southern Africa this year. And despite the crushing irony of celebrating an annual holiday with an indulgent explosion of artificial light amid an electricity crisis, Christmas is back on track in Mother Knysna at the very least.
The burst of year-end light – however contrivedly person-made it might be – marks the end to a sporadically dark year, literally and figuratively, with some dramatic peaks and troughs in local politics, social issues, entertainment and legal matters.
In an impressive show of versatility, the DA both in and out of town turned its focus persistently from the dreariness of political problem-solving and daily drag of fixing its own leaking ship, to persecutory pursuits.
After nearly a year-and-a-half of doggedly trying to hound Mark Willemse from his mayoral perch it sort of succeeded by booting him from the party – with the result that as this is being penned, Knysna is still left with only a deputy mayor and no municipal representative for Ward 9.
Apart from this imperishable upset, the muni had other storms to weather too. While it seems to have temporarily won the battle against estuary E. coli, it was confronted with the reality of inadequate ablutions for the over 200 homeless that call Knysna… well, home.
Echoing the civic upsets in Plett where local communities riled against everything from housing issues to service delivery, Knysna also erupted during the bail applications of the three accused of murdering former councillor Victor Molosi.
Any hopes to, er, bypass the ever-prickly issue of diverting the N2 tearing through town was rudely shattered after 73-year-old Jackie Stroebel was dragged under a truck in the main road on 22 November.
Being, in all likelihood (until proven innocent), the only coastal town in the galaxy that has a national highway cutting so crassly through the centre of its CBD, the whole tank of sharks was punctured again – leaving the good citizens of Knysna simultaneously grief-stricken and wondering anew who exactly the misdirected, short-sighted and in all probability rather rapacious noodles might have been who gave the go-ahead for this ridiculous design in the first place.
No doubt the municipality will now set aside at least half of its approximately R1-billion annual stipend to finally address the issue.
Other highs and lows in 2019 included Knysna residents voting against the charm of Woodmill Lane being substituted by, as one irate burgher put it, "a film set for The Jetsons"; Plettenberg Bay re-establishing itself as paedophilia-exposure capital of the continent; ex-Knysna fire chief Clinton Manuel qualifying as primary contender for Best Slipper Through The Legal Cracks Award after a fourth report (this time by short-term insurance giant Santam) shredded his version of the origins of the 2017 wildfires; Jessica Storm Kapp being announced winner of the Sasol New Signatures fine arts awards; the launching of our first international film fest, the Knysna Theatre as well as the first municipal rugby league.
But the most glorious explosion of pure-white highlights this year must surely be the conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment of the three men accused of murdering respected community learder Victor "Freeze" Molosi. In a spectacular turnaround during cross-examination, the prosecution came through and finally ended a harrowing, 18-odd months of nail-biting, frustration and anguish. (Read the wrap-up on page 8 of today's Knysna-Plett Herald).
May next year be an equally thrilling but slightly less disruptive roller-coaster ride.
Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year!
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