Safety in the park

2019-04-16 06:00
Patrols keep bikers safe.

Patrols keep bikers safe.

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Since TokaiMTB’s establishment about two years ago, their safety patrol and monitoring programme to help ensure the safety of users have started bearing fruit.

Their aim was to assist SANParks in the event of an accident or emergency before reopening Tokai to park users after the devastating fires of 2015. Also part of their objective was to be the leader project group so that others can learn from them.

The initiative consists of “spotters” stationed in observation posts and the TokaiMTB 4x4 is linked to an emergency number, providing roving patrols and trailside emergency assistance. Both spotters and cars are in radio contact with a security control room run by a local business, constantly sharing information that is vital to quickly dispatching assistance in any number of forms if and when needed.

The initiative has focussed its coverage in areas where criminal incidents have been recorded in the past.

Deon De Villiers, TokaiMTB Table Mountain National Park liaison officer says they are happy with the measure they have put in place and consistency has helped them yield the results.

“The patrol has deterred and disrupted the movements of numerous other suspicious situations, as well as driving continued investigations linked to the arrest resulting in the return of stolen goods through uncovering links higher up in the chain of this type of crime,” he says.

De Villiers says the mountain range is too wide for SANParks hence they decided to put their heads together and give their time to protect the space they love.

“We are all volunteers and we are passionate about the outdoors. However, the incidents make it difficult. Criminals take chances as there was a huge range that SANParks couldn’t cover. We came together and we had to think of ways to help them,” he says, adding that one thing they have done well is being consistent in their patrols.

“When there are inconsistencies with patrols it leaves cracks for criminals. We make sure that we are consistent. We are all motivated by being outdoors and being in a safe space, doing what we love,” he says.

In the past year, the TokaiMTB patrol has been responsible for the arrest of two criminals returning to the scene after two successful attacks earlier. They were waiting for another victim. Swift action between TokaiMTB and SANParks resulted in the tracking and apprehension of the two men disguised in camouflage and carrying weapons identical to those used in past attacks spanning several years.

Initially, the safety patrol was available on weekends only but for the past year, it has been extended to include Tuesdays and Thursdays at certain times thanks to the generous donations from several local bike shops and private donors.

“We had to do all we can to assist SANParks, it is easy to blame someone when things are not going well but we had to think of a different way and say how can we help.

Adding to their successes is the implementation of an emergency phone number that puts users in direct contact with the team on the mountain, assists greatly in reducing response times and allows the team to be placed on the scene within minutes to assess and coordinate the situation between law enforcement and medical agencies, and in all cases SANparks.

  • TokaiMTB emergency number is 071 424 4712 and is available for emergencies and any possible threat during Tokai operating hours.

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