Appeal to councillors

Jane Laing, Tokai

Merle Collins of SANParks states that it is the proximity to the urban edge that introduces crime, not the fynbos (“Fynbos a safety risk”, Bulletin, August 11). This is a patently absurd attempt to shift responsibility to the communities in the area.

These long-established suburbs form part of the greater city of Cape Town. As things stand currently, we face losing the prized amenity of a shaded recreational area and must also accept the risk of crime and fire.

Regarding security guards, they are usually to be seen sitting on logs in the sun at the edge of the treed area; not much use to anyone needing help deep in shoulder-high fynbos. My friendly retriever trotted up behind an “alert” guard, who nearly jump-ed out of his skin, waving a large stick. So, SANParks, do not promote security guards as reassurance.

I understand that SANParks is legally required to engage with the public regarding the future of the Lower Tokai plantation, but consistently refuses to do so, thereby depriving us of a democratic right.

We request our City councillors to intervene on behalf of Tokai and the surrounding communities.

* Merle Collins, SANParks regional communication manager, responds:

The park is not shifting responsibility. However, fynbos does not cause crime, people do and people live in urban areas. Our rangers are on patrol across the national park and are often deployed at observa-tion points. We encourage dog walkers to ensure that their dogs are under control because our staff do get bitten and uncontrolled dogs pose a threat to other users as well. In addition, we have received many compliments because the rangers are so visible.

In terms of Tokai and Cecilia, a full public participation process was conducted. The public process followed standard procedures for such an environmental process as set out in the National Environmental Management Act: the public, stakeholders and authorities were notified; baseline studies undertaken; issues identified; alternatives considered; all comments responded to and a preferred alternative was developed as expressed in the said management framework. The full set of documentation tracking this process has been available on the TMNP website. In addition, the park management plan was reviewed last year and it also had a full public participation element.