The increasing incidence of crime and fire in the buffer zones of Table Mountain National Park pose a serious threat to the urban edge. The devastating fires of March 2015 (which destroyed several homes), numerous smaller fires, the slaying in June 2014 at Trappieskop, the brutal rape and murder in Lower Tokai in March 2016, and the fatal attack above Kalk Bay in January 2018, along with numerous other, and increasing, incidents of violent crime in known hot spots, highlight SANParks’ failure to adequately manage the 221 sq km Park.
Table Mountain National Park is uniquely situated in an urban setting, and is supposed to be a People’s Park. Unlike rural parks such as Kruger National Park, it must meet a broad range of local user needs; particularly the needs of communities who lack urban green space. Management strategies for the Park must therefore be specific to meet the demands of an increasingly densified city environment. Unfortunately local users regularly run into issues and concerns that hinge primarily around safety with respect to crime and fire; access and creeping fees; a focus on biodiversity and touristic commercialisation to the exclusion of local user groups, ratepayers and communities; and, the failure to effectively manage buffer zones, particularly where they lie adjacent to dense urban edges.
The issues pertaining to the management of TMNP dates back over ten years to when it became apparent, through a flawed public participation process, that TMNP managers failed to pay heed to public concerns. Over time the relationship between SANParks and many users and stakeholder groups has become increasingly fractious, with lack of safety within the Park being a key driver.
On 7 March 2016 the brutal rape and murder of a teenage girl took place in the fynbos section of Lower Tokai. This terrible tragedy has brought the issue of crime and safety in the Park into sharp focus – yet when asked as to how they will manage this problem, SANParks have failed to respond.
In light of this tragedy, along with another murder, multiple rapes, stabbings and muggings throughout the Park – and the reluctance of SANParks to engage with concerned citizens – the vision was born to reclaim the buffer zones, for the people of Cape Town, starting with lower Tokai Park as a potential model. The objective is to create safe urban parks for all.