Mission: Rehabilitation of the Jukskei River
Date: 29 March 2009
Requesting organisation: WET-Africa (Water & Environment Transformation-Africa) and the SOUL Foundation
Location: Gauteng
Pilot: Justin Bass and Jeremy Woods

Report by Kim Kieser
Report by Justin Bass (pilot)
Report by Jeremy Woods (pilot)


In early 2009 The Bateleurs was invited by WET-Africa (Water & Environment Transformation-Africa) to collaborate in a project to rehabilitate the Jukskei River.  The invitation led to our to our flying, in late March, the first of several missions scheduled for this project.  The first flight involved extensive photography and mapping of the river and problem areas, and will provide the “before” images; subsequent missions will provide a photographic record of “work in progress”, and, finally, the “after” images, as this project reaches completion.

This first mission for WET-Africa required two aircraft, piloted by Bateleurs members Justin Bass and Jeremy Woods, while Bateleur pilot Richard Strever volunteered to provide
the “before” photographs for WET-Africa.  Here is the post-flight report from Kim Kieser, CEO of WET-Africa, followed by short reports from Justin and Jeremy.


Report by Kim Kieser of WET-Africa

This is where the Jukskei River starts, in Bertrams, Johannesburg.

“The mission departed Rand Airport in Germiston on Sunday the 29th March at around 11h00 for a planned one hour flight to Hartebeespoort Dam. Routing was from Rand Airport to Hillbrow/Bertrams down to Bruma lake, then north towards Buccleuch, Kyalami, Dainfern, Diepsloot and the Hartebeespoort Dam. Altitude was between 700 and 1000 ft AGL following
the Jukskei, and some orbits were necessary during the route in order to get different perspectives for the cameraman.

The objectives of the mission included:
*   Mapping the status of the Jukskei River from source (Bertrams corner Queen and Sports) to the Hartebeespoort Dam. Main aspects pollution and river health status including hotspots (Alexandra, Diepsloot and Zevenfontein);
*   Photographing the status of the catchment prior to our WET River Restoration programme;
*   Raising awareness of the state of our rivers to enable us to raise the necessary funds to implement the programme.

The flight immediately provided WET-Africa with a useful macro- level perspective of the area.  In addition, the flight provided high resolution digital photographs which have already helped to identify areas needing attention along the waterway,  as well as providing an important overall indication of the health of the Jukskei.  These photographs will be studied and correlated with satellite maps to create an understanding of the river’s situation before WET-Africa begins its interventions.

The impact of the Jukskei is clearly visible on the Crocodile River (into which the Jukskei flows) and the Hartebeespoort Dam (into which the Crocodile flows).  The waterway is currently in a poor condition with extensive examples of pollution and contamination through human activity resulting in the characteristic green colour of Hartebeespoort Dam.

WET-Africa thanks The Bateleurs for their wonderful support and professionalism, and for helping us to achieve a better understanding of our waterways.”

Report by Justin Bass (pilot)


The Jukskei River as it runs through Alexandra township, in northern Johannesburg.

“On the 29th March 2009 I was fortunate enough to be part of a mission to assist WET-Africa to acquire a photographic record of the current state of the Jukskei River, from its source in
Bertrams (close to Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg) to the Hartebeestpoort Dam.  I was joined by fellow Bateleurs pilot, Jeremy Woods, in his Piper Comanche, and also Bateleur pilot Richard Strever who, in this instance, fulfilled the role of official photographer for the mission.

As ever, flying a mission for The Bateleurs gives one a unique opportunity to gain an insight into one of the many pressing environmental issues facing South Africa, and also to meet another group of dedicated and passionate environmentalists.  On this mission, WET was represented by Kim Kieser (CEO) and Greg Steenveld (COO) –  both of whom flew in the relative comfort of Jeremy’s Comanche.  Richard and I were joined by Steve Banhegyi who was assisting WET-Africa to acquire video footage of the river, and who had a bird’s eye view of the river and landscape from the open door of my Cessna 172.

Our thanks go to Richard Strever who, despite some relatively tight turns with his head and shoulders in the airflow, has managed to capture many hundreds of photographs of the river which have been linked together in a photographic collage.  We hope that these photographs and the aerial perspective will assist WET in their most valuable and important initiative.”


Report by Jeremy Woods (pilot)


“Finally, after having been a member of Bateleurs for four years or more, I was able to fly my first Bateleurs mission.  The reason for this unfortunate set of circumstances is that my plane is a low wing passenger aircraft designed for getting people quickly and comfortably from one point to another.  This is not ideal for aerial photography or surveys of the ground.

Fortunately, for this particular mission Kim Kieser and Greg Steenveld were not going to be taking the photographs themselves.  Richard Strever, another Bateleurs member, had been requested to do the photography.  He was therefore strapped into a high wing C172 belonging to Justin Bass, with the door off to make his job easier, while Kim and Greg accompanied me as observers.  Their job was to note the time and the specific place over which we were flying because Richard would be taking hundreds (if not thousands) of photographs, and it was felt that it might be difficult to identify the position from the photographs only, later on.

Watches were first of all synchronized with the camera time before take-off.  Greg then noted the time and the name of the position we were over as we flew along.  Later, when the notes and the time of photographs are reconciled, it should be possible to identify more or less which part of the river is depicted in the photo.  Steve Banhegyi, another observer from WET-Africa, whose task was to collect video footage of the mission, accompanied Richard and Justin in the C172.

The Jukskei passes through two restricted airspaces, namely O.R. Tambo and Lanseria.  Entering these airspaces caused some small hiccups.  We decided that Justin would do the calling for the formation, if you can call it a formation, because we were in visual contact mostly about 100 – 200 metres apart.  The Jukskei travels through the western-most edge of O.R. Tambo’s CTR and we had to orbit for quite a while before they gave us permission to enter the airspace.  All the steep turns and pulling “G’s” unfortunately caused Kim severe nausea, but when we were back on the ground at Rand Airport she started getting some of her colour back and was happy to claim that the mission had been a success.”