Why the fuss about dog duties?

Caroline Voget, Bergvliet

An open letter to our ward councillor, Liz Brunette

I would like to know why, in the light of the brutal attacks on Table Mountain, the dangerous driving and unroadworthy vehicles on our roads, and the runaway crime in Cape Town where there is a conspicuous absence of any law enforcement, does the City of Cape Town see fit to deploy three or four heavily armed men in black combat gear to check that Constantia residents are walking their dogs on leads in the peaceful and quiet Constantia Greenbelt near Le Seuer Avenue as they did last Tuesday morning (June 12)?

I thought there had been a major incident with a noisy pursuit of dangerous felons through the leafy greenbelt paths, but no, these alarming men were only there to fine pensioners and jogging mums with unleashed dogs. Was this necessary?

A new by-law insisting that dogs be walked on leads in this very popular area of the greenbelt has suddenly curtailed decades of dog walking for the sake of a tiny, but no doubt vociferous (and wealthy) minority of horse riders who have been frightened by some of the local over-fed pooches.

But even if the new by-law was fair, why this hysterical response? Surely a cop or two on foot, urging people to pick up dog poop and to ask walkers to control any inappropriate dog behaviour by leashing their dogs (or else, a fine) would suffice? Are the Constantia strollers and their indulged dogs so scary that you need to send a whole squad of storm troopers on noisy and destructive quad bikes?

I understand that its far easier to collect fines from wealthy retirees and yuppy joggers in an area that is relatively safe because the locals can afford to employ a functioning security company to keep the real criminals at bay, but why such force?

The fiasco in the greenbelt was a complete and utter waste of City resources.

Perhaps you could suggest that they take their boy toy quad bikes up the mountain to help the SANParks rangers patrol the paths around Kleinplaas dam where there are some real axe-wielding felons on the loose as I write this. But then again, maybe that’s too scary for them. And definitely not as lucrative.

* Ward 62 councillor Liz Brunette responds:

I do not deploy law enforcement of any kind on any greenbelt or anywhere else.

The by-law that requires dogs to be on a leash in all (public open spaces) except when specifically permitted have been in place since 2010 – before I was a ward councillor.

The changes instituted last year are to allow dogs off leashes in 10 greenbelts. You would have received a number of emails from me and the sub-council about the process and its intention; maybe you chose to believe the misinformation spread on Facebook and other social media.

* The Bulletin also referred the letter to the City of Cape Town and received the following response:

Kindly note that your query has been noted and that the above operation was set up to educate the Constantia greenbelt users.

Many users have become increasingly concerned due to previous attacks on horses and on multiple occasions injuries were sustained to not only the horses, but the riders as well. Due to ongoing complaints to law enforcement regarding dogs running off leashes, the officers have endeavoured to educate and enforce the CoCT by-laws regarding this as well as non moving violation by-laws that applied to illegally parked vehicles in the area.