About the Campaign
It is sad that this is during examination times for learners in the area and their schooling year has been disturbed causing a significant dent to their academic progress. It is our duty as individuals, corporates and civil society to be there at a time when our fellow brothers and sisters are suffering due to acts of nature and there is nothing they could have done to prevent the catastrophe. Let us join hands and donate whatever amount we can towards helping the learners in Knysna get back n their feet and run the race towards academic excellence. It is with heartfelt regret, that these learners had to go through such a calamity. Please join The Education Support Forum (TESF) in getting as many funds as possible towards buying books, blankets, stationary and all materials needed to comfortably learn. The official death toll in the Southern Cape has risen to five, with as much as 80% of the fires contained. Shocked family members are reeling from the tragic death of a pregnant mother, her husband and their three-year-old son, who have been identified as victims of the catastrophic wildfires on the Garden Route, Knysna Plett Herald reports. Formerly from Uitenhage, Madre Johnston, 33 – who was eight months pregnant – husband Tony, 34, and son Michael perished in the raging forest fires while fleeing for safety from their Sedgefield smallholding. Adding to the devastation is the fact that the family died on little Michael’s third birthday. Southern Cape police spokesperson Captain Malcolm Pojie said their bodies were found about 15 metres from their smallholding in Elandskraal, located between Sedgefield and Karatara. Battling tears, Madre’s grief-stricken sister, Linda Truscott, 42, said Tony and Madre had been living on the smallholding while both worked at a civil engineering firm in Knysna. Truscott said the family had been looking forward to welcoming another little boy in only five weeks. “We are completely destroyed. We really thought they would make it out safely. We do not know what happened. We think it was smoke inhalation, but we do not know.” READ MORE:Three die in raging Knysna fire After initial reports of a fire in the area, family members had tried frantically to contact Madre and Tony. “They belonged to a very close-knit community out there, and their neighbours called us to find out if they were safe. We had not heard anything from them. We tried calling, but there was no reception. Maybe the [cellphone] towers were destroyed. The last time Madre was on WhatsApp was around 6.32am,” Truscott said. At lunchtime on Wednesday, they received the tragic news. Tony’s cousin, Lunice Johnston, said they had loved the outdoors. They belonged to a mountaineering club, and were usually always first to respond to emergencies. “They lived in the forest, very isolated. If I were ever to be in trouble in the forest or the bush somewhere, I would have felt the safest with Tony around me because he would have got me out of there. He was very practical and calm. We understand their whole area was engulfed with flames and that they tried to escape but were literally just outside their home when they were surrounded and trapped by thick smoke,” she said. “Their home was burnt to the ground. Our family is devastated, but we know somehow we’ll get through this.” Truscott said Tony and Madre had been high school sweethearts, and had both attended Brandwag High in Uitenhage.