KNYSNA NEWS - Senior Park Ranger in the Knysna Section of the Garden Route National Park, Owen Govender, said this morning that the recent closure of the estuary for recreational usage is a direct result of the new nationwide regulations, and not a result of a specific event/s.
Govender made the statement after videos and photos of boat users on the Knysna Estuary were circulated wherein the participants, described in the media and online platforms as “rich kids”, seemed to be participating in a social gathering without adhering to Covid-19 compliance regulations.
The pictures were accompanied by insinuations that the closure of the Knysna Estuary occurred primarily as a result of such social interactions in the estuary that took place in the days leading up to President Cyril Ramaphosa's address on Monday 28 December 2020.
Govender has made it clear that this is not the case and that the closure is grounded on the new Lockdown Level 3 regulations that came into effect on Tuesday 29 December 2020.
"In the regulations, it states that all beaches, dams, lakes, and rivers are closed in hotspot areas, and that public parks where there is no access control are to be closed," he explained. "We don't have access control to the Estuary for the general public, because of the sheer number of ways one can access it."
This, along with the regulation stipulating the closure of beaches, dams, lakes, and rivers in hotspot areas, is what led to the local Sanparks offices receiving a directive from their head office that there is "a need to act on the regulations that have been put in place,” he said.
Govender emphasised strongly that the closure of the estuary is not because of incidents with boat users, as implied by some. "These incidents have merely acted as examples as to why these types of regulations need to be in place in the Estuary, and are not the reason for the Estuary closure," Govender said.
Responding to questions as to why the participants in the estuary-gathering were not removed from the lagoon after his rangers received verbal abuse from the boat users Govender said:
"Prior to the implementation of the new regulations, we did not have the necessary powers to issue a fine for non-compliance on the Estuary. With the implementation of the new regulations we do however have the necessary power to deal with such incidents.”
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