Table Mountain rangers attacked over mountain access
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Cape Town - SANParks says it is disheartened by reports of attacks on its rangers by mountain users demanding access to sections closed to the public following the devastating fire last month.
The Newlands Forest Conservation Group said it has recently received some disturbing reports of shocking behaviour from some park visitors who had subjected rangers to physical and verbal abuse, because they were not happy that some sections of the park remained closed.
The group said rangers were shouted at and abused when they tried to stop visitors entering the closed areas.
Parkscape founder Nicky Smidth said it was unfortunate that as a result of historical issues, the public had adopted a lack of respect and an entitled attitude to the mountain and to certain rangers.
“In this particular instance, the fire-damaged section of the park carries real risk and at multiple levels, thus requesting the public to stay out of these areas is both for the good of the public and restoration efforts.
To this end, though it may seem unreasonable to some, it is a request that’s not unfounded, so becoming aggressive about it is simply counter-productive and unpleasant for all concerned.
“The rangers have a job to do, and provided they are doing it politely, even in the face of provocation, then users need to accept and respect the area closures,” said Smidth.
Friends of Table Mountain chairperson Andy Davies said they will engage with SANParks to expedite the opening of these areas.
“We understand the frustration from some members of the public on not being able to access certain areas of the fire damaged mountain. However, these restrictions are there for a reason, and we ask the public to respect these requirements,” he said.
SANParks spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli said SANParks, together with various volunteers including the Honorary Rangers, were working hard to have these areas ready for use. However, with rain falling in the past week, work could not continue.
“Notice boards, media releases, radio interviews and social media platforms are constantly utilised to communicate the status of the rehabilitation work currently under way. Post-fire rehabilitation work continues in the Rhodes Memorial Area and Deer Park in the northern section of Table Mountain National Park.
“The rehabilitation work that is currently undertaken includes the removal/felling/clearing of burnt material, such as trees along footpaths and board walks, soil stabiliszation with the assistance of the City of Cape Town …” he said.
Thakhuli asked the public to be patient, as the work was being carried out to ensure the safety and enjoyment of park users.