Removal of swing sparks community ire

Families at a community made swing at Tokai Forest before it was removed.

SANParks has drawn the public’s anger after it removed a popular swing good Samaritans set up in the Tokai Forest.

A post about the incident on Parkscape’s Facebook page sparked outrage and accusations that
SANParks was eradicating “little joys” and not prioritising more serious issues like crime in the park.

Parkscape is a non-profit organisation that was formed in 2016
to promote community upliftment, tourism and recreation in the Tokai Park after teenager Franziska Blöchliger was raped and murdered while jogging at Tokai Forest (“Franziska accused: I only wanted to rob her,” Bulletin, December 8 2016).

The post on Parkscape’s Facebook page last Friday said SANParks had removed both the swing as well as climbing steps on the
oak tree at the big pool in the forest.

However, SANParks spokeswoman, Lauren Clayton, said the organisation wasn’t trying to be a killjoy by taking down the swing.

“‘The swing at the Labrador Pool in Tokai Forest was removed by Table Mountain National Park on July 4, primarily
due to the risk and hazard associated with the structure being attached to a branch overhanging a stream without any stable footing or sound infrastructure,” she said.

“There may be possible legal implications if an unfortunate incident should’ve occurred. It is to be noted that the erection of the swing was conducted
without authorisation by the management authority. We are looking at alternative structures to put in place going forward.”

But according to the Parkscape Facebook post, the swing was there for many years, in various forms, and it had been put up and replaced by members of the community.

Avril Roberts Retief, a Meadowridge resident who previously lived in Tokai for 33 years, said she was sad to see the swing ago.

“What a pity it had to be removed. So many beautiful memories for the little ones that got to play on it. It looked like it brought a lot of pleasure to them.”

Others echoed Ms Retief’s sentiments, saying crime was a more important issue than removing the swing simply because the correct procedure was not followed.

Sue Lancaster, a Tokai resident, said it was much easier removing a swing than policing criminals.

“The criminals continue to make our mountains and parks a no-go war zone,” said Ms Lancaster.

Nicky Schmidt, chairperson of Parkscape, said that it was very disappointing that the swing had been removed as it had given joy to a lot of children. “Removing the swing is a disservice to the environment and community. It is short- sighted,” said Ms Schmidt.