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23 August 2011 at 15:26 - Posted by GeraldY

Media Statement by Dan Plato, Minister of Community Safety


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I commend the police for their rapid response time following this weekend's mugging on the Table Mountain Chain and I am pleased that an immediate alert was communicated to the public following the incident.

This once again highlights the importance of maximising resources to increase safety on the Table Mountain Chain. I believe that the only way to curb these crimes is through a focused approach and the efforts of the Table Mountain Forum (TMF), established only six months ago, are yielding results.

Patrolling the area is challenging in that it extends over a quarter of the entire mountain range, some 6 500 hectares.

Therefore, the TMF was established to build on and assist safety operations by SAPS, Metro Police and SANParks, and bring together civil society organisations with a stake in mountain safety and a passion for Table Mountain.

Crime prevention strategies (patrols and other) and plans to optimise resource deployment are regularly thrashed out by law enforcement Forum members and the teams involved in the operational side of the safety plan. This is to not only increase the monitoring of areas identified as crime hotspots, but to ensure tactical approaches to aiding those who use the mountain chain in case of any emergency.

In turn the Forum's civil society formations and volunteers are bolstering these plans with fresh approaches, additional resources and re-energised thinking.

The initiatives of various role-players are already contributing greatly to the implementation of short term and long term strategies to improve the safety of mountain users.

The Table Mountain Safety Action Group has launched the Table Mountain Watch Network to inform mountain users via the website www.turnitaround.co.za and via the social network Twitter of any recent incidents reported on the mountain, whether these are confirmed or not. On the website recent incidents are indicated in Google Maps format, along with the relevant details. The public can also sign up for information via SMS or e-mail.

Those following @TablemntnWatch on Twitter will receive real-time information on their Twitter home page or cellphones, in the case of smartphones, about mountain safety. Any 'incident alerts' received will be communicated immediately via Twitter, SMS and email.

Although official confirmation of incidents remains largely with law enforcement, and in terms of crime specifically with SAPS, Table Mountain Watch is intended to help mountain users make informed decisions with regard to their planned activities on the mountain.

The Greenpoint and Oranjekloof City Improvement District is working with role-players to establish a general communication channel for all radios when used on the mountain chain. This will enable the law enforcement officials on duty and volunteers out on the mountain for the day to communicate via radio communication. It can ultimately help speed up reaction time should an incident occur.

In addition, the City of Cape Town has given their commitment that the 'Cyclops' cameras placed on the mountain chain are operational and will monitor activities on a 24 hour basis in support of the Law Enforcement Agencies, especially SAPS - Cape Town Station - that are deployed in the areas covered.

Through the assistance of the Table Mountain Bikers extra directional route signage to assist mountain users has also been erected and more signs are expected to be phased in shortly in conjunction with SANParks.
These initiatives are based on the concept that all additional "eyes and ears" on the mountain chain aid to increase mountain safety.

The South African Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association's involvement on the Forum has also resulted in an offer for the appropriate Forum members to undertake one-hour flights overhead Table Mountain in a light aeroplane to increase their familiarisation of the terrain and strengthen operational planning. Their input also assists with area familiarisation in general as they have comprehensive stock images and 3-D Google Earth images of the vast terrain.

Forum member The Pedal Power Association (PPA) this month officially handed over a new patrol dog to Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP) to boost the existing visitor safety dog unit. The value of the sponsorship is R22 000 and two-year old German Shepherd, "Purdy" now joins a team of nine other canines to help in the fight against crime and to assist those in need. TMNP Park Manager Paddy Gordon says the unit has proven to be very effective in terms of mountain patrols and believes contributions like these will further enhance the recent expansion of the visitor safety team by 29 rangers.

The approach of the TMF showcases that by making safety everyone's responsibility and through strong partnerships, we can find sustainable long term solutions to increase safety.

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