Knysna fire: secret CSIR report bombshell

Knysna fire: secret CSIR report bombshell

A secret internal investigation by scientists at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research into the origin of the Great Fire that engulfed the Garden Route town of Knysna last year could open the floodgates to negligence lawsuits running into the billions against Knysna Municipality and its fire brigade.

The investigation, conducted by specialist scientists at the CSIR’s prestigious Meraka Institute, set out to establish the origin of what is known as the western fire, which started in the forests of Elandskraal, 20km north-west of Knysna, in the early hours of June 7. Was it a long-smouldering forest fire ignited by lightning? Or a man-made log fire lit by a pine-cone in a farmland clearing? 

The Great Fire was the worst, most fearsome conflagration on the Garden Route since 1869. More than 600 firefighters battled its separate blazes for days. Seven people died and 10,000 were evacuated from their homes. Some 487 properties in Eastford, Knysna Heights, Paradise and part of Knysna Central were destroyed and 1,533 households registered as disaster victims with Knysna Municipality. 

Nowhere to go but up

Nowhere to go but up

A young Afrikaans woman from the Cape today stars as an MP for the Inkatha Freedom Party, long seen as a political home for Zulu nationalists. Sue Segar reports on Liezl van der Merwe’s mission to fight for justice – with the social grants fiasco top of her list.

IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe believes that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is playing a “critical endgame” aimed at making it impossible for the South African Post Office to take over the payment of social grants – all so that she can keep Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) in the picture at all costs.

“She has completely engineered this crisis, again,” says Van der Merwe, referring to recent delays in finalising a deal with the Post Office.

Hell hath no fury like a sequestrated ex-wife

Hell hath no fury like a sequestrated ex-wife

Divorce of wealthy couple leaves ex-wife almost destitute – but she holds a trump card.

The ex-wife of a prominent Vryheid pig farmer has won an almost five-year battle against liquidators after she was sequestrated and left without a penny to her name.

The formidable team of seasoned liquidators, represented by the insolvency department of Africa’s largest law firm ENS, includes Pietermaritzburg liquidator Pierre Berrangé, ENS liquidation specialist Adam Lombard and Pietermaritzburg auctioneer Peter Maskell – all were outmanoeuvred by divorcee Renata Volker.

From the outset, Renata maintained that the liquidation of the family business that she and ex-husband Thomas Volker once owned was nothing more than a sham put in motion by Thomas and his team of “legal hitmen-for-hire” plus a bit of help from his bankers, First National Bank and First Rand Bank. Their aim, says Renata, was to make sure she got nothing in the divorce settlement – a claim her ex-husband and Berrangé deny.

Survé rides his unicorn up the newsroom Everest

Survé rides his unicorn up the newsroom Everest

Business Report, once known for its stellar financial and business reporting, and to be found in almost all of Independent Media’s titles, has become a favoured platform for press baron Iqbal Survé to promote his business cronies and disparage his competitors.

The writer doing the dirty work is none other than the Business Report executive editor Adri Senekal de Wet. These stories also have one significant similarity – at no point do any of them disclose Survé’s interest in any of the businesses it unashamedly punts.

Survé, while professing he doesn’t interfere with editorial direction, clearly does. Or, at the very least, is happy for Senekal de Wet to do so on his behalf.

Aids hocus pocus. Have we learned nothing?

Aids hocus pocus. Have we learned nothing?

I’m usually a pretty nice guy to everyone who knows me. It takes a lot to get me mashing at the virtual buttons of my pocket computer in righteous anger – but those conspiracy theories about HIV and Aids have sure got what it takes to wipe that Mr Nice Guy smile right off my face.

The first time I heard one of these tinfoil-hat gems was when a physics lecturer of mine said that the HI-virus was created to exterminate black people in South Africa, using the nuclear programme that was later decommissioned. He was not joking, and I am not pulling your leg. It made no sense, but my main concern was: why would someone with a master’s degree in physics believe this nonsense, let alone convey it to the world?

A real Burke. Lewd man, genial mask

A real Burke. Lewd man, genial mask

The strong and admirable women reporters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Sydney Morning Herald, two venerable (and vulnerable) news institutions, after “slowly and meticulously” considering many allegations, have outed an Australian icon, the celebrity TV gardener Don Burke, accusing the star of “relentless bullying and harassment” of women, spanning decades.

He's an unpleasant, lewd man, doubly offensive because he’s hiding behind a genial mask.

It started out sounding like it might be a witch-hunt.

The Russian Connection

The Russian Connection

Vladimir Putin’s crowd conjured up a plan to build a R300bn ‘aerotropolis’ in Maritzburg. There was cash to be harvested and Jacob Zuma was on board, but the madcap extravaganza came crashing ...
 
Knysna fire: secret CSIR report bombshell

Knysna fire: secret CSIR report bombshell

A secret internal investigation by scientists at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research into the origin of the Great Fire that engulfed the Garden Route town of Knysna last year could ...

Nowhere to go but up

Nowhere to go but up

A young Afrikaans woman from the Cape today stars as an MP for the Inkatha Freedom Party, long seen as a political home for Zulu nationalists. Sue Segar reports on Liezl van der ...

Hell hath no fury like a sequestrated ex-wife

Hell hath no fury like a sequestrated ex-wife

Divorce of wealthy couple leaves ex-wife almost destitute – but she holds a trump card. The ex-wife of a prominent Vryheid pig farmer has won an almost five-year battle against liquidators after she ...

Survé rides his unicorn up the newsroom Everest

Survé rides his unicorn up the newsroom Everest

Business Report, once known for its stellar financial and business reporting, and to be found in almost all of Independent Media’s titles, has become a favoured platform for press baron Iqbal Survé ...

Aids hocus pocus. Have we learned nothing?

Aids hocus pocus. Have we learned nothing?

I’m usually a pretty nice guy to everyone who knows me. It takes a lot to get me mashing at the virtual buttons of my pocket computer in righteous anger – but those ...

A real Burke. Lewd man, genial mask

A real Burke. Lewd man, genial mask

The strong and admirable women reporters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Sydney Morning Herald, two venerable (and vulnerable) news institutions, after “slowly and meticulously” considering many allegations, have outed an ...