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2018-03-27 06:00

Started as a way to fight back against a big, corporate news company, People’s Post grew to become so much more – to give people a voice and represent the community in a manner “that mattered”.

Over two decades ago, in an office off Fish Hoek Main Road, Joe and Simone Frylinck started the newspaper in opposition to the Independent group’s community newspapers, after the group had cancelled an origination and production contract that could have put their company, Fish Hoek Printing and Publishing, out of business­.

Pamphlets were delivered to every house in Fish Hoek, asking residents for ideas for a name for the new newspaper, with a prize sponsored by Herbie Eichel of the Galley restaurant on the beach. So it was that on 17 November 1995, the People’s Post was born.

The Frylincks used their many contacts in the area, Joe having owned The Echo and the Sentinel newspapers years before, to drum up support for their new endeavour and were soon printing and publishing fortnightly.

“It just took off,” explains Simone.

Being privately-owned, the Frylincks had the freedom not allowed to the corporately-owned competition: They could take on issues affecting their community, unapologetically.

“[The newspaper was] a way to make a difference,” Joe says.

“It was a people’s paper.”

Joe soon became known for his controversial “telling it like it is” views, and his willingness to “name and shame” government departments who did not perform.

However, fairness remained crucial to the reporting, with all parties given the right to reply, and many complaints against local businesses resolved with mediation through the Frylincks.

Community remained at the heart of the People’s Post, with locals encouraged to send submissions for publication. “Each police station had their own column, written by them, in their own words,” Joe recalls.

There were also regular contributions from local legends – Eric Barnes wrote on the birds of the valley and Tom Keanes on the flowers of Elsies’s Peak. Then there was a column by a local chiropractor – something relatively new for its time and described by some as “shocking” and the “hands of the devil”.

It was a commitment to the community that saw People’ Post taking on fights that many wouldn’t.

The Frylincks and the newspaper were instrumental in the court case between Metrorail and the Rail Commuters’ Action Group, in which the Constitutional Court ruled that Transnet and Metrorail are in fact responsible for passenger safety.

“That was huge,” says Joe.

“The outcome of that court case mattered. Long after commuters would still phone us late at night from the trains fearing they would not make it home safely.”

The Metrorail case motivated the Frylincks to start the Emergency Control Centre and initiate the Trauma Counselling units at the Fish Hoek and Ocean View and police stations.

Throughout their time at the newspaper, the couple retained a sense of humour.

The Frylincks often proofread pages at home in their jacuzzi and Simone would say “you can’t say that!”

Joe would say, “but it’s true!” Simone would say “but you still can’t say that!”

“People would phone us at home on a Sunday to tell us they’d found a spelling error,” says Simone.

“Joe would respond: ‘Oh thank goodness you found it! We’ve been looking for that everywhere!­’”

After almost ten years at the helm of the People’s Post, the Frylincks sold the newspaper to its current owners, Media24 in October 2004.

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