KNYSNA NEWS - 'Sparks at fire': Early Wednesday morning, two helicopters were desperately fighting to put out a bushfire in Sedgefield but the Southern Cape District council's Mr Patrick Hall seemed confident that they had everything in control.
Sound familiar? It would be even more so if you've been around for the past few decades and happen to be a consistent reader of the Knysna-Plett Herald. For this copy constitutes the front page lead headline and intro of this very paper 20 years ago this week. And as the news of that week reveals, time does not heal almost everything.
A case of Veja Du
The somewhat unsettling state of Veja Du (which it is said, apparently occurs when you come across something now that happened in the past which reminds powerfully of a current state of affairs) is poignantly invoked by a Page 3 impact headline screaming that Knysna is Too Expensive.
"A number of people complained about the outrageous prices of accommodation," pronounced Steve Erikson of the Chamber of Business. Overall businesses have not done well, the article stated and "some have even closed down".
There are exceptions however. In a reflection of an era when women's emancipation had not yet achieved its current impact, the front page picture shows three entrants in the Miss Redds Formosa Bay Beauty Pageant all perched neatly on the podium with the obligatory one knee forward and resplendent in hip-hugging hot-pants and promotional T-shirts.
And a portrayal of a time before Knysna became a race track for rampant construction projects, the second lead on Page 1 reveals plans for the development of Thesen Islands by the Fisch Group (who were also rewarded the tender to develop another housing project where distinguishing one home from another is a challenge: Belvidere Estate for R800-million) – complete with all the obligatory promises of jobs and boost for the local economy.
Described as a village "charactered (sic) in distinctive colonial maritime architecture" it promised to "add more than 25ha of sheltered water surface to the lagoon" in such an enticing way – one wonders why anyone even ever bothered with so-called unsheltered water surfaces at all.
(Concerns over the development however show scant progression. A few pages further, a reader from Sandton doubts whether the project is viable citing the San Lameer and Marina da Gama developments (on the Kwazula Natal and Cape Town coasts respectively) as having been dependent on large corporation bailouts. If the project should fail, he laments, "Knysna takes the blow to its principal asset, the already overburdened and ecologically threatened estuary and receives few if any of the benefits promised by the developer.")
An appeal to thieves
Two decades ago today also represented an epoch it seems, when stolen goods were still expected to be returned at a price. Dr Jonathan Marchand, chairman of the Homeopathic Medical Association called upon the thieves of his electronic assessment machine stolen in Plettenberg Bay, to return it for a reward of R5 000 (some R14 000 today).
Perhaps this was not enough for the culprits who might or might not have mistaken the gadget for a laptop at the time.
Knysna was still possessed of a more robust nighttime economy and boasted a movie theatre where patrons had the last chance to see either The Negotiator, Girl's Night or Wrongfully Accused until the next day before Babe: Pig in the City and Snake Eyes came into play.
Knysna Fine Art hosted an exhibit of Walter Meyer (who was allegedly murdered by his lover a little over a year ago) and Guy du Toit.
Other reports show father Christmas arriving at Plett beach in a rubber duck, a group of Knysna athletes participating in the Millennium Bell 2000 project, and no less than 25 Christian churches advertise their services in the classifieds.
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