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Every contribution will be matched during the month of February.

I came into contact with Pikkewyntjies Pre-Primary school two years ago, after having lived in Betty’s Bay on-and-off since I was a child. Since then, I have visited the school and connected with the team, and of course the children. This is a most extraordinary environment, and the community is unbelievably lucky to have the pre-school and people like Zaan and her staff.

 It is wonderful to see what the team have done. The Pikkewyntjies Pre-School serves the most needy, disadvantaged families in the region. Every one of thechildren come from a background which is socioeconomically stressed, and without this school, these 38 children would be left without the educational support that they need.

It is also clear that the poor economic times we all face are being felt terribly hard by this school. The state provides almost no support, and corporate donations are reducing. The expenses to run the school continue to rise substantially, and the school is under major financial pressure. I have also heard that a portion of the community members who previously contributed to the school have reduced their support. Some have done this in anger at the recent spike in crime, which is thought to have certain perpetrators within the Mooiuitsig communities.

We need to respond positively and actively. We need to try everything possible to create jobs for the community, so that they do not have to resort to crime. Secondly, we need to support the children even more, so that they do not become victims of the same cycles of poverty and crime. Without this school supporting these children to able to make better choices, our community will be ravaged by even more crime in the future!

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Thus, I am writing to challenge the Rooiels, Pringle and Betty’s Bay to join me in raising money for Pikkewyntjies. My family will create an “incentive fund” of R25,000, and this will be used to match any contribution from another family made in February 2016. If your generosity pushes us to the max, we will have a total of R50,000 raised for the school, and we will then look to the possibility of setting up a trust fund for the school.

Join us in showing our appreciation to Zaan and her team for what they do, and starting a legacy project to protect these children and the community in the long term.

The Pikkewyntjies bank details are as follows:

First National Bank cheque account
Account number: 62147034988
Branch code: 200412

If you do decide to contribute to the school, please inform Zaan that you have done so. She would like to thank you. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please ensure that the words “Funding”, followed by your surname appear on the school’s bank statement.

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Also known as “Bass Lake”, it offers sheer perfection on a hot, windless day.

My profession as marine and coastal ecologist has taken me to many coastal environ- ments throughout the world. On the basis of this experience I can say with conviction that Betty’s Bay, with its mountains, forested gorges, fynbos-dominated coastal plains, rivers, lakes and wetlands, dunes, beaches and the sea, ranks amongst the best.

A quite remarkable fresh water body in Betty’s Bay has the unusual name of Malkopsvlei. The story goes that the area around this lake was used in years gone by for cattle grazing. Obviously the cattle came to the lake to drink. However, when they ventured in too far, they got stuck in the slushy mud of the bottom and in their panic went ‘malkop’. To avoid this from happening, the owner of the cattle is said to have filled in the shallow, eastern part of the lake with dune sand. Hence the sandy bottom of the eastern periphery which is such a boon to those who play and swim in the lake today. I cannot vouch for the correctness of this story, but what is interesting is that there is a huge hollow in the dunes immediately on the seaward side of the ‘filled in’ area. So it seems as though there may well be truth in the story. Many years later, large-mouth bass were introduced into the lake and it is therefore often referred to as ‘Bass Lake’.

The configuration of the lake is equally interesting. It is about 350m long (measured by GPS & Google), 80m wide in its outlet region and it has a maximum depth of about 2m. Water reaches the lake from various sources. A major part of the wetland area westwards of Dawidskraal between Bass and Reed Roads drains into Malkopsvlei and it receives water from the Betty’s Bay Mountains via streams and sub-surface flows. It also receives water from the kloof and waterfall above the Betty’s Bay Shopping Centre and Garage. As the run-off water from the mountains is rich in tannins, it is typically dark. In scientific jargon Malkopsvlei is therefore referred to as a black-water system.

In spite of hot and uncomfortable conditions and attacks by thousands of midges and ants, the traversing of the channel was a memorable experience. This is, in fact, a remarkable piece of wilderness in the Betty’s Bay environment. Amongst others, I came across otters, snakes and an exceptional variety of bird-life.

The outlet of Malkopsvlei to the sea is particularly interesting. Instead of opening directly into the marine environment via the shortest route over a distance of some 300m through the dunes and across the beach, lake water flows through a deep trough between two old and stable backshore dune systems to enter the sea at a sandy beach inlet, some 1.5km to the east, near Dawidskraal. The channel banks and upper edges consist of very steep sandy slopes consolidated by typical dune vegetation dominated by Olea-, Maytenus-, Colpoon-, Metalasia- and Passerina scrub. In the lower, damper sections of the outlet channel, this scrub merges into swamp vegetation, dominated by various species of reeds, especially Phragmites. Milkwood trees are common along the damper parts of the channel.

Towards the end of 2002, there was a suggestion that widening of this outflow channel might enhance drainage from Malkopsvlei and hence reduce high bacterial loads which had been measured during the summer months. I was worried about such artificial interference with a natural and stable aquatic system. That prompted me in December 2002, to work my way from the sea near Dawidskraal to Malkopsvlei along the entire length of the channel, wearing wetsuit, pants, booties and armed with a camera capable of taking photos above and below water.

The investigation led me to recommend that artificial widening of the channel should be avoided at all cost, as disturbance of the steep vegetation-bound channel slopes would inevitably lead to dune subsidence and hence the likelihood of total blocking off of the exit channel - with serious consequences for the entire lake system.

In spite of hot and uncomfortable conditions and attacks by thousands of midges and ants, the traversing of the channel was a memorable experience. This is, in fact, a remarkable piece of wilderness in the Betty’s Bay environment. Amongst others, I came across otters, snakes and an exceptional variety of bird-life.

Sadly, Malkopsvlei continues to be subjected to severe and increasing human impacts. All-important peripheral sponge and wetland areas, which formerly acted as filters and which replenished the lake through the slow release of water during the dry summer months, have been drastically degraded by houses, roads and other infrastructure. Pollution by leaking sewage conservancy tanks is a serious problem. Surface water run-off has been concentrated by road culverts which, in turn, affect ground water levels. Pollution is furthermore exacerbated by stormwater run-off. In addition, many Betty’s Bay dog owners enjoy using the lake as playground for their dogs. While the romping dogs are a pleasure to watch, they foul the immediate periphery of the lake, including the grassed verges where people sun-bathe and children play.

The overall consequences of these various sources of pollution are two-fold:

Firstly - the risk of unacceptably high bacterial levels, especially of Escherichia coli and at times of filamentous algae, both of which are hazardous to human health.

Secondly - encroachment into open surface areas by the reed Phragmites australis as a result of high nutrient levels in the water reaching the lake.

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Water quality is tested weekly and, if necessary, the lake is closed to swimmers until the pollution levels drop.

These undesirable ecological and human health indicators unfortunately make their ap- pearance during the hot summer months when the occupancy of houses and recreational use of Malkopsvlei are at their highest. In the past, this has forced Overstrand Municipality to prohibit swimming in the lake during the summer holiday period. It would be a huge loss to the allure Betty’s Bay if the recreational and scenic benefits of Malkopsvlei enjoyed by generations of residents and visitors, were to be jeopardized.

Can this danger be averted? Probably yes, but only if strong collaborative steps are taken, including:

  • Rigorous protection of undeveloped plots on the lake periphery acting as sponge and filters.
  • The upgrading of the sewage removal system in this region.
  • Ensuring that portable toilets used by builders drain into proper conservancy tanks and not directly into the wetlands feeding the lake.
  • Proper management and possible upgrading of the road stormwater system.
  • And sadly - prohibition of dogs in the lake and on its peripheral areas during peak holiday periods – dogs enjoy the lake as much as people do.

The Water and Sewage Committee of the Betty’s Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association are collaorating with the Municipality. But it is clearly of vital importance that all residents do their bit by adhering to preventative measures such as those outlined above.

[ 11 December 2015]

Good News From Harold Porter National Botanical Garden

Bridges in Disa Kloof to undergo repairs at last
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After a very lengthy and frustrating wait, the bridges which were damaged by the massive floods in November 2013, are finally going to be repaired.  We are delighted and relieved to be able to announce that the repairs will start on Monday 18 January 2016 and should be completed in June of this year.

The long wait was caused by having to comply with the many regulations demanded by the Department of Environmental Affairs, which included a Botanical Survey, an Environmental Impact Assessment and an Hydrology Study, all of which had to be contracted out which required a tender process and all the red tape that that involves, as well as a Water License Application which had to be approved. A further tender to find the correct, fully compliant, contractor with experience in bridge building was then advertised and, once approved, was appointed.


As soon as repairs commence, Disa Kloof will be completely closed to the public who will not be able to proceed further than the Olive May Porter Bridge which crosses the Dawidskraal River.

We would like to thank all our Garden visitors for their patience and understanding while the bridges have been out of commission and hope that the lowered entrance fee has helped to offset the inconvenience of not being able to visit this special section of the Garden.  As soon as Disa Kloof is opened once again with the new bridges, the entrance fees will be raised as decided by the SANBI Board.  As always Botanical Society members and children below 6 years will enjoy free entry.

Jane Forrester,
Interpretive Officer
Harold Porter National Botanical Garden

Tel:  028 272 9311
E-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Upcoming Events
  • Carols by Candlelight  19 December 2015
  • Gugulethu Tenors Concert  02 January 2016
  • Heinz Winckler Concert  06 January 2016