Table Mountain rangers face more accusations after altercation with elderly tourists
Table Mountain National Park is investigating an incident in which two of its staff allegedly “wrestled” an elderly foreign tourist to the ground reportedly in an attempt to enforce lockdown regulations.
According to a Facebook post on the Friends of Table Mountain page on Thursday, an elderly couple were walking on Scarborough beach when the rangers told them to leave.
The post, by page administrator Nicky Schmidt, alleged the rangers apprehended the couple while they were walking on a boardwalk leading to the beach on private land next to Cape Point.
The couple were told to sit on the boardwalk but one of them, believed to be an 80-year-old German doctor, started suffering from medical complications as he was reportedly recovering from cerebral malaria.
“The gentleman ... started, after waiting some time, to feel faint and increasingly unwell and knew he needed his medication,” said the post.
His wife, a nurse, reportedly waited on the boardwalk for the rangers to return but when the rangers saw the man leaving they tried to apprehend him, the post alleged.
“His wife, seeing what was happening, rushed to his aid. The witness statements speak for themselves. The couple are deeply traumatised and are understandably afraid to make a public statement at this time,” said the post.
“Given the severity of the matter, we asked to speak to the Table Mountain National Park manager but are advised he is on leave.”
Table Mountain National Park issued a statement on its Facebook page on Thursday stating that the incident was under investigation both internally and by the police.
“SANParks is further aware of the social media reports from eyewitnesses and would like to request that they contact TMNP acting park manager Mr Barry Stoffels via e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org or SAPS Simon's Town to provide their account of the incident, rather than through social media,” read the statement.
“We would like to advise the general public that the country is still under level 3 of the nationwide lockdown, where beach activities are not permitted in hotspot areas, under which Table Mountain National Park is included.”
The Friends of Table Mountain post included six descriptions of the incident, which Schmidt claims were taken from witnesses to the incident.
She said the witnesses did not wish to add their names to the statements.
The Facebook post referred to an incident in December 2019 in which professional cyclist Nic Dlamini’s arm was broken during an altercation with rangers.
“It is deeply concerning, particularly in light of the incident with Nic Dlamini in December 2019, the historical reports of harassment by rangers on park users as sent to Mountain Club SA in January 2020 and the formation of the ministerial task teams in March 2020, that incidents such as these continue to happen,” said the post.
“The witnesses who have come forward have expressed trauma and fear as a result of what they experienced.
“We have seen much good work and real effort from Table Mountain National Park and its many good rangers recently, making this incident deeply unfortunate and disappointing.
“We hope that SANParks will take this incident seriously and investigate accordingly.”