[imagesource: Daniel Dreier/Getty Images]
SANParks is once again under fire, this time regarding safety in and around Table Mountain National Park.
There have been several attacks in the area in recent weeks, with safety initiative Table Mountain Watch accusing authorities of dropping the ball.
Andre van Schalkwyk, chair of Table Mountain Watch, says that three trail runners have been attacked in the area above Soetwater, with an attempted mugging also taking place near the Bos 400 wreck, close to Sandy Bay.
Whilst SANParks has touted the R2 billion mission area joint operations centre (MAJOC), which is in the planning stage, van Schalkwyk fears that could turn into “yet another mega ANC project, which risks being subjected to the usual mismanagement and corruption”.
Van Schalkwyk said SANParks should rather be taking the R2bn they hope to raise and invest it in real-time internet of things (IoT) technology, which includes drones, CCTV and sensor surveillance. The watch said using technology and existing resources in this way would work equally well for crime-related activities as it would for fire and even landslide prevention…
Van Schalkwyk said SANParks needed to be held to account.
“Just sticking a helicopter in the air and not talking to us is not going to cut it,” he said.
SANParks spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli responded by saying that safety and security within the park remains a top priority, adding that they “take this responsibility as the organisation very seriously”.
He also said that SANParks is involved with a number of initiatives to combat crime:
“Security information from the aerial cableway CCTV surveillance cameras is also shared widely with various stakeholders. The mission area joint operations centre is a long-term project and will be introduced in phases as resources permit.
“The first phase is already operational, from where rangers are being deployed and incidents are reported. This phase comes with a complete integration to the city of Cape Town emergency control centre.”
Mission statements and plans to curb crime in the park are nothing new, and the challenges of effectively policing so much ground are sizeable.
Still, those who want to enjoy the park are well within their rights to expect to be protected while doing so.
In an unrelated matter, the CEO of SANParks, Fundisile Mketeni, has been asked to take special leave, after complaints of sexual assault and common assault were made against him.
Here’s The Daily Maverick:
…Mketeni appeared in court on 11 May together with two other SANParks men and a woman, all facing similar charges. He has been temporarily replaced by Dr Luthando Dziba, who presently heads Conservation Services.
SANParks board chairperson Joanne Yawitch said that in line with SANParks’ commitment to ethical conduct and the seriousness of the allegations, Mketeni will have to step aside until the matter is resolved.
Dziba has a master’s degree in agriculture, as well as a PhD in rangeland science from Utah State University.
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