Meet the women who fought the Knysna fires

first_imgIn June this year, devastating fires laid waste to the Western Cape, particularly in the towns of Knysna and neighbouring Plettenberg Bay, where homes were destroyed and residents were displaced. All South Africans responded to the disaster with urgent assistance and much-needed moral support. Meet three brave women who were at the forefront of the firefighting/ relief efforts.Huge fires wreaked havoc along the Garden Route of the Western Cape, particularly in the town of Knysna, in June 2017. Thanks to community leaders, emergency workers and other volunteers, the people affected by the disaster are able to rebuild their lives. President Jacob Zuma visited the area on 15 June 2017. (Image: South African Government Flickr)CD AndersonThe Knysna fires were devastating. Hectares of forest and fynbos were destroyed, while hundreds of homes in the town itself were gutted. Over five days at the beginning of June this year, almost a thousand firefighters, emergency workers and community leaders battled to save the town. Seven people lost their lives, but in the true spirit of ubuntu, South Africans around the country sent aid and assistance to the area, to help residents rebuild their lives.Three remarkable women were at the forefront of efforts, all heroes who responded with courage and compassion in the aftermath. These are their stories.(Left to right) Candace Myers, Knysna community leader, Cwayita Runeli, SANParks ranger and Marlene Boyce, Director of Planning, Knysna Municipality. (Image: Marie Claire SA magazine)Candace Myers, Knysna community leaderA lifelong resident of the area, Candace Myers has seen her fair share of fires in the highly volatile natural environment, but the June fires were something different. She told Marie Claire magazine: “It was like another planet… [over] five days, I’d experienced emotions I haven’t had in 50 years of my life.”Myers acted as a co-ordinator between ground forces and the town council’s disaster management team. “There [have] always [been] fires and we always know that somehow these things are taken care of… but sitting in the ops room with the disaster team that Wednesday afternoon, I felt absolute fear in the pit of my stomach. This fire was out of control and we didn’t have enough firemen and expertise. Our town was in flames,” she said.She co-ordinated communications with rescue workers, making sure the teams could fight the fires on all fronts. “[When cell phone reception] went down and we didn’t have communication with our family or anyone else,” she said, “I suddenly felt sort of alone… but we just had to hold out hope that somehow the people… were getting the help they needed. We spent the whole night helping wherever we could.”Myers also helped the relief work as the fires raged and residents were evacuated. She saw firsthand how devastating the fires were, but also how the community came together to help each other: “Members of the public were helping evacuate residents, everyday heroes pulling together and saving each other.”Cwayita Runeli, SANParks rangerCwayita Runeli is a South African National Parks (SANParks) ranger with firefighting training, and was one of only two female SANParks rangers in the thick of the action during the Knysna fires. There are a number of important nature reserves in the area, which is rich in fauna and flora (including volatile fynbos), and it was important that SANParks did everything in its power to minimise the damage.“I feel scared every time I fight fires,” Runeli told Marie Claire. “Anything can happen.” Though used to seeing out-of-control bush fires, Knysna was a shock to her. “When we were sent to Brenton On Sea (a coastal hamlet outside Knysna), it was my first time in such a huge fire. I’d never seen anything like it.” The fire itself was an ocean, she said, “that’s how the flames moved through the fynbos. Those plants hadn’t burned in over 15 years… even the sound of the fire was like a rumbling ocean. The crashing waves. The sky was dark, the smoke everywhere.”Duty however, was foremost on her mind. “I told myself [that] I have to save these lives. I knew exactly what to do… I know about the fire. I [had] to help them.” And she had something to prove.“People say that ladies can’t fight the fires. But I know that I can do anything the men can do. There is nothing that can stop me. People used to say that my body is too small, I’m too thin – all those things. But I told them that it doesn’t matter what [my] body is like – if [I] did the training, [I] can do the job. If you tell yourself that you can do it, you can. And I did.”While the devastation was immense, Runeli is confident that SANParks did its best to save what it could and is now dedicated to reviving this important natural ecosystem to its former glory.Marlene Boyce, Director of Planning, Knysna MunicipalityAs the Knysna fires raged, South Africans around the country – and indeed the world – did not just stand back and watch. Thousands of donations of food, clothing and other necessities flooded into the town, to be distributed to those affected by the disaster. Marlene Boyce, the director of planning and development in the Knysna Municipality, was in charge of co-ordinating the distribution, making sure the needs of the community were met.In addition, her planning department also compiled vital data needed to begin recovery from the fires and rebuild the area. It’s a job that continues long after the last flames have been put out.The future of the town and its people were foremost on her mind, even in the midst of the confusion brought on by the disaster. “[While] the first night was about rallying our municipal team and communities together to save lives… I couldn’t keep the future impacts out of my mind,” Boyce told Marie Claire.Responsible for spatial, environmental and economic development, Boyce and her team had to assess the damage and begin drawing up a recovery plan: “I had a good idea of what the actual impact would be. Large sections of mature commercial timber plantations were destroyed – what of those employed by the industry? And our tourism industry? All of those people would need assistance. Only after the worst of the fire did my real job start.”Even when her own house was affected, she still had to keep her mind on the important job at hand. “[The community’s] hospitality shown to me… left me feeling inspired about my job ahead. Like many people, I know we have a lot to look forward to, with possibilities to change our town for the better.”Part of Boyce’s role now is to look at new ways to approach nature conservation and community protection. While a national tragedy, the fires were also an opportunity to find alternative means to stimulate growth in the community, create employment and boost the tourism industry.“Knysna has an indomitable spirit,” Boyce said “[We] don’t live in a hopeless town. It is a community where people instantly pull themselves up and put their best foot forward. If there’s one message I think has come out of this, it’s that Knysna cannot be defeated. Like our fynbos, we are ready to flourish after this fire.”Source: Marie Claire, News24Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Black winemakers to benefit from new agro-processing incentive

first_imgThe Department of Trade and Industry’s Agro-Processing Support Scheme aims to stimulate investment in the agro-processing sector, and black winemakers in particular are being urged to apply.Ntsiki Biyela, winemaker at Stellakaya cellar. (Image: Rodger Bosch)Small businesses in the agro-processing sector have until 31 January 2018 to apply for financial support from the Department of Trade and Industry’s (the dti’s) Agro-Processing Support Scheme (APSS), for the current application window.The R1-billion grant, which was launched in June 2017 by Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies, aims to stimulate investment in South African agro-processing and beneficiation enterprises. From a national development perspective, the agro-processing sector is among the sectors identified by the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) and the National Development Plan (NDP) for its potential to spur growth and create jobs, due to its strong backward linkages with the primary agricultural sector.The five sectors that can benefit from the scheme are food and beverage value addition and processing; furniture manufacturing; fibre processing; feed production; and fertilizer production.In particular, the dti is urging black winemakers to apply to the APSS.Giving black winemakers an opportunity to get financial support through this incentive is part of the objective of the dti to change the structure of the economy, said Chief Director: Strategic Partnerships and Customer Care at the dti, Tsepiso Makgothi. “The wine industry remains largely concentrated and entry and active participation [of black winemakers] is limited. They’re now given an opportunity to get into the mainstream of the economy, because the incentives are available as part of transformation.”On why black winemakers did not have access to incentives previously, Makgothi said: “In the past [they] were left out due to barriers to entry, as well as because they were still too small to meet some of the stipulated requirements of the then manufacturing incentives.”However, the APSS funds are not reserved for a single group or sector. “We don’t keep money for one certain group. What if we have money available only for black winemakers, but they don’t apply?”The dti will be identifying specific focus areas annually to drive transformation, Makgothi added.What is the APSS?According to Minister Davies, the APSS “will be a cost-sharing grant towards funding agro-processing projects and it will be capped at R20 million over a two-year investment period, subject to availability of funds”.The scheme will support brownfield and greenfield investments; encourage investment in both upstream and downstream support services; and provide for the expansion of infrastructure to be used by farmers and agro-processors.Benefits of the scheme include:a 20% to a 30% cost-sharing grant to a maximum of R20 million over a two-year investment period, with the last claim to be submitted within six months after the final approved milestone;an additional 10% grant for projects that meet all economic benefit criteria such as employment, transformation, geographic spread and local procurement; andthe maximum approved grant may be utilised on a combination of investment costs such as new machinery and equipment, tools and forklifts; new commercial vehicles; buildings and competitiveness improvement interventions, provided the applicant illustrates a sound business case for the proposed investment activities.An applicant must submit a completed application form and business plan with detailed agro-processing/beneficiation activities, budget plans, and a projected income statement and balance sheet for a period of at least three years. The project/business must exhibit economic merit in terms of sustainability.National awarenessCreating an awareness of the scheme nationally is important to encourage applications.The dti used the Africa Big Seven Food Forum and Saitex, which took place at the Gallagher Conference Centre in Johannesburg in June 2017, to launch the APSS. “We normally identify an activity [or event] that relates to the scheme to host the launch of a new programme. We then explain [the scheme] to the people to build an awareness,” Makgothi said.“We have an awareness programme throughout the country,” Makgothi added. Thus far, she has travelled to the Free State and Mpumalanga to build awareness of the APSS, while other officials have travelled to other provinces.“We work with officials of the Department of Economic Development in every province, together with those of other government departments and provincial agencies,” Makgothi explained. “They are based in the province and know companies that could benefit from the incentive scheme.”Presentations are held by Makgothi and her team nationwide. This is part of the pre-application process aimed at helping companies with their applications. “The companies can ask us questions [during presentations].”In addition, Makgothi said, companies have the opportunity to pitch during the pre-application process. “We correct them if they are wrong in some areas of their pitching; we provide pre-application support. After they have sent in their applications, we can no longer get involved until the application has been evaluated by an Adjudication Committee and a decision communicated to the company.”One of the things the dti looks at during a pitch is the equipment a company has and the type of equipment required to be more competitive.The dti team also “builds capacity within the programme so that [applicants] will have people within the province to assist them when we are not there”, Makgothi added. The department, which is based in Gauteng, has regional offices in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.Farming and the droughtDrought is an ever-present threat to the agriculture sector, so the APSS team works closely with the National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPS-SA).The centre, an initiative of the dti, promotes the implementation of Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production (RECP) methodologies to assist businesses to lower costs through reduced energy, water and materials usage and waste management. It then advises the companies on how they could reduce their cost of business, by implementing these competitiveness improvement interventions.“When a company implements these activities, we can provide funding to them,” said Makgothi.She gave an example of how water can be saved with technology: “Like if you clean vegetables with water, instead of throwing water away, there’s technology that can capture the water for it to be used again. Perhaps the water can be used for crops. Companies become more profitable.”Makgothi said the dti can also give financial assistance to business owners to buy technology that will assist with saving water.Meet MakgothiMakgothi brings a wealth of experience to her work and sees herself as an all-rounder. “Wherever I’ve gone, I’ve learned something new.”Makgothi was employed in the pharmaceutical industry, working on product development, in Germany and quality assurance in Lesotho before coming back to South Africa.In South Africa, she headed up the quality assurance division of Alliance Pharmaceuticals before being drawn back to product development at the dti’s The Enterprise Organisation TEO, now known as the Incentive Development and Administration Division. Three years later, she became Chief Operating Officer (COO) of TEO; six years later, she managed four different schemes as the Chief Director for the dti’s competitiveness cluster.Makgothi began her current role when the last scheme came to an end in 2015 – and is passionate about growing small businesses, watching them get funding, expand their business and even enter the export sector.“It’s very fulfilling when someone comes up to me with gratitude and says, ‘You may not remember me, but I’m so-and-so of this company. You helped my company grow.’”For more information on the APSS and to apply for this incentive, visit the dti website the dtiWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

11 Must-Read Video Production Articles (June 2016)

first_imgHere are the top news articles, rumors, and announcements from the world of video production for you to enjoy at your leisure while soaking up some summer rays.Top image via Blackmagic DesignSummer is heating up, which usually means video production news is cooling down. However, fresh on the heels of (an albeit disappointing) NAB and with some exciting announcements from Canon, Blackmagic and DJI, June has had its fair share of exciting news bits already.So, before you trade in your cameras and lights for beer koozies and swim trunks, check out these must-read articles for June.1. Major Camera Rumors from CanonCanon Rumors reports that a new Canon 5D Mark IV is currently being tested by photographers in the field ahead of an August or September announcement. There have also been whispers of an all new Canon C700 to compete with the ARRI AMIRA, along with a new Canon EF 1000mm f/5.6 IS DO lens. Stay tuned on this one. Read about the rumored Canon camera specs here.2. Werner Herzog to Teach Online Filmmaking Class This SummerIndieWire writes about Werner Herzog‘s new online film school launching this summer through Master Class. The online program features twenty video lessons and over five full hours of learning documentary and narrative feature filmmaking from the eccentric master.3. for, the collaborative video sharing and review platform, has jumped into your phone, now allowing you to upload, review and share with collaborators from anywhere, anytime. The app, available in the App Store, utilizes some of the nifty iPhone perks like TouchID and 3D touch for Peek and Pop support.4. Blackmagic Design Releases URSA Mini 4.6K Test FootageOriginally set to be released last year, the new URSA Mini 4.6k has been delayed to get it up to functioning at full capacity. Well, looks like those issues have been fixed and Blackmagic is shipping the URSA Mini 4.6k pre-orders. Watch the test footage here.5. 5 Tips for Picking the Right Trailer MusicRed Shark News Staff puts together a helpful list of five tips to use when picking music for your film trailer. #4 is our favorite, but they’re all good! Give it a read over at Red Shark News.6. GoPro Needs a HeroSean O’Kane delves deep for The Verge in an interview with GoPro CEO Nick Woodman about the company’s less than spectacular 2015 and raising expectations for a new focus on software and editing. With recent layoffs of 7 percent of the GoPro team, the profile piece couldn’t be more timely.7. Tips for Working With LogosCaleb Ward breaks down some basic tips and tricks for working with logos when editing your next corporate video. Removing backgrounds, converting to vector art, and some simple animation tricks will help give your video that next-level shine. Try it out on The Blast at DJI and Film Riot Launch an Online Film SchoolDJI and Film Riot’s Ryan Connolly have decided to join forces to help you make more kick-butt films. The mini-sessions show you all the practical behind-the-scenes magic that goes into the completion of an original short film shown at the beginning of the class. As with all their teachings, you’ll enjoy the ride. Watch the first three episodes.9. Cannes 2016: What Cameras Were Used to Shoot This Year’s FilmsCurious to know what some of the best up-and-coming films were shot on at this year’s Cannes Film Festival? You’re in luck. IndieWire reached out to all the directors and DPs to find out and compile a neat little article.10. The Difference Between Color Correction and Color GradingTo some, the terms “color correction” and “color grading” are one and the same. To others, they are distinctively different parts of the coloring process. Shutterstock’s Footage Blog breaks down the definitions more thoroughly.11. Sadly, This Happened Hope those were as informational and enjoyable to read as they were for us to compile. Look out for an updated list next month and keep shooting!Have any other articles you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.last_img read more