The scram­ble for a ho­me

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Voorblad - S­te­fan Goo­sen s­te­fan@grou­pe­di­

The bru­tal re­a­li­ty that now fa­ces Knys­na is that, alt­hough of­fi­ci­al sta­tis­ti­cs ha­ve still not been re­le­a­sed, ma­ny pe­op­le who lost their ho­mes we­re te­nants and did not ha­ve any in­su­ran­ce.

W­he­re does one find an af­for­da­ble pla­ce to rent af­ter the fi­res that ra­va­ged the to­wn mo­re than a month ago com­ple­te­ly de­stroy­ed the struc­tu­re you u­sed to call ho­me?

W­hat do you do w­hen your in­su­ran­ce doe­sn’t pro­vi­de you with the me­ans to rent a­not­her hou­se?

T­he­se are the que­s­ti­ons that S­hel­don King and his fa­mi­ly, li­ke ma­ny ot­hers di­rect­ly af­fected by the di­sas­ter, ha­ve to now ask sin­ce that fa­te­ful Wed­nes­day e­ve­ning, Ju­ne 7.

Ac­cor­ding to King, he re­a­li­sed he lost his ho­me in We­st­ford B­rid­ge in the e­ar­ly hours of T­hurs­day mor­ning w­hen his fat­her An­dré King ac­com­pa­nied him the­re.

The King fa­mi­ly had mo­ved in­to this ho­me on Ju­ne 1.

“We clo­sed the cof­fee s­hop at a­bout 10:00 that Wed­nes­day mor­ning as we he­ard fla­mes we­re ap­pro­a­ching our neig­hbour­hood and we had two dogs at ho­me. We we­ren’t a­ble to get through though as the Whi­te B­rid­ge was clo­sed at that ti­me. At a­bout 14:00 my wi­fe Ja­na, who works for the Knys­na po­li­ce, con­tacted a col­le­a­gue who was bu­sy checking ho­mes in the sa­me a­rea to see if t­hey could sa­ve the dogs. At that point t­hey found our boer­boel S­hei­la, and the hou­se was still stan­ding. Our bor­der col­lie Blue was no­w­he­re to be found,” said King.

King furt­her told the ta­le of how, at a­round 18:00 that e­ve­ning, t­hey re­cei­ved news that their ho­me was still un­tou­ched, but that Blue was still mis­sing. All the whi­le he was mo­ving with fa­mi­ly and f­riends from one a­rea to a­not­her as suburbs and the CBD we­re being e­va­cu­a­ted.


“W­hen my fat­her and I e­ven­tu­al­ly got to the hou­se e­ar­ly T­hurs­day mor­ning, with him shi­ning the car’s lig­hts on­to the hou­se so that we could see, I got out of the car and just cried. My wi­fe and two sons still ha­ven’t been back the­re,” he said.

A mo­ment of joy ca­me­a­me two days la­ter though, w­hen Blue sho­wed up at the shell of a ho­me he u­sed to know. “He had ad a s­lig­ht in­ju­ry to his paw, but be­si­des that he was just blac­ke­ned with ash and soot,” said King.

It was from that dayy that King and his fa­mi­ly ha­ve been in se­arch of a new pla­ce to call ho­me.

“Look­ing for an a­vai­la­ble, af­for­da­ble, child and pet-friend­ly ho­me with the ren­tal mar­ket al­re­a­dy in sham­bles was al­ways dif­fi­cult be­fo­re the fi­res, and we took the pla­ce [the now burnt hou­se] im­me­di­a­te­ly w­hen it ca­me up af­ter weeks of look­ing. Af­ter the fi­res, the si­tu­a­ti­on ha­sn’t im­pro­ved at all. P­ri­ces are mo­re or less the sa­me, but the a­vai­la­bi­li­ty and fin­ding a child and pet friend­ly ho­me has be­co­me a big­ger is­sue,” said King.


He said this was the fa­mi­ly’s most pressing is­sue. “We ha­ve re­cei­ved a­we­so­me do­na­ti­ons sin­ce, and ha­ve al­most re­pla­ced all the i­tems we need most – food and clo­thing from dis­tri­bu­ti­on cen­tres and fa­mi­ly, Gift of the Gi­vers, Da­nie­la Do­tan from Ning­mo Foods. The com­mu­ni­ty in ge­ne­ral has been won­der­ful. The is­sue re­mai­ned fin­ding a suit­a­ble ho­me,” said King.

Whi­le sleep­ing on a “Chris­t­mas bed” for the first two weeks of their se­arch, af­ter which the King fa­mi­ly mo­ved back to the hou­se t­hey occu­pied be­fo­re mo­ving to We­st­ford B­rid­ge, t­hey tried e­very pos­si­ble rou­te to find a new ho­me.

“Two-be­droom ho­mes we­re going for a­round R9 000 per month, whi­le three-be­droom pla­ces ran­ged from R15 000 to R25 000 a month. We star­ted thin­king that per­haps we should look for so­mething bet­ter in Sed­ge­field or Har­ker­vil­le,” said King.

He said t­hey u­sed the in­ter­net, fi­ve dif­fe­rent e­sta­te a­gents, and “f­riends who knew pe­op­le who knew pe­op­le” to se­arch for a new ho­me.


At the ti­me of going to print, King in­for­med the Knys­na-P­lett He­rald that he had found a suit­a­ble pla­ce to rent in Hun­ters Ho­me. The se­arch took them al­most six weeks. He rei­te­ra­ted the pro­blem: “Our big­ge­st pro­blem was fin­ding a pla­ce that would al­low child­ren and pets, which is ex­tre­me­ly scar­ce. Does this to­wn on­ly want ol­der re­ti­red pe­op­le li­ving in Knys­na, pe­op­le who wouldn’t con­tri­bu­te a­ny­thing to the wor­king class? W­hat a­bout child­ren and a­ni­mals?

King said t­hey we­re “very for­tu­na­te” to find the pla­ce and sym­pa­thi­sed with w­hat ot­her pe­op­le are still going through.

As it was, he said, the pla­ce t­hey ha­ve now ren­ted ca­me up via word-of-mouth and t­hey im­me­di­a­te­ly snap­ped it up, coun­ting them­sel­ves very lucky to ha­ve found so­mething. E­ven though it is mo­re ex­pen­si­ve than t­hey would li­ke, he said it is ma­na­ge­a­ble be­cau­se t­hey are su­blet­ting a part of it.

Ed no­te: The Knys­na-P­lett He­rald has at­temp­ted to find out if ren­tals ha­ve so­a­red sin­ce the fi­res. Whi­le the­re are so­me in­di­ca­ti­ons that p­ri­ces may ha­ve go­ne up, w­hat is ap­pa­rent is that the­re is an a­cu­te shor­ta­ge of ren­tals un­der R10 000 a month suit­a­ble for fa­mi­lies with a­ni­mals and/or child­ren.

This ap­pears to be the phe­no­me­non in both Knys­na and P­let­ten­berg Bay.

We ask tho­se who can­not find ren­tals to e­mail s­te­fan@grou­pe­di­ to brief­ly share their sto­ries.

How ma­ny pe­op­le we­re not in­su­red and ha­ve no­w­he­re to li­ve is al­so an is­sue that has a­gain been broug­ht to the Knys­na mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty’s at­ten­ti­on.

See a fol­low-up in weeks to co­me.

P­ho­to: Sup­p­lied

S­hel­don King’s ho­me in We­st­ford B­rid­ge af­ter the Knys­na di­sas­ter.

P­ho­to: S­te­fan Goo­sen

S­hel­don King.

P­ho­tos: Sup­p­lied

S­hel­don King’s ho­me in We­st­ford B­rid­ge be­fo­re the Knys­na di­sas­ter.

The fa­mi­ly dog Blue re­tur­ned two days af­ter the in­fer­no.

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