Cape Town community safety group Parkscape are mourning the death of Roger Priestman, a member of the team, who died in hospital on Wednesday, February 17. He was brutally beaten in an alleged armed robbery in Tokai earlier this month.
Priestman along with his wife and daughter were allegedly assaulted at a residential property adjacent to the Prinskasteel Stream greenbelt in Tokai on February 11, according to Parkscape. He was heavily beaten as the robbery unfolded and was admitted to hospital after security providers and police responded.
Priestman died in hospital on Wednesday. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana told Cape Town ETC that a case of house robbery is under investigation and police are awaiting autopsy results before declaring a cause of death.
Parkscape said Priestman was a regular participant in their community events.
The organisation announced it will ramp up its patrols in the Tokai area and encouraged people to join them as they patrol the Lower Tokai area of Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) on Saturday, February 20. A minute of silence will be held to honour Priestman’s memory.
Parkscape has noted an increase in opportunistic crime in the greater Tokai area in recent months.
“In part, this is to be expected given the economic impact of COVID-19,” said Nicky Schmidt, Parkscape Chair.
He added that patrollers are aware of suspicious activity in the Tokai section of TMNP, referring to an armed robbery that took place in Lower Tokai at the Prinskasteel River in December 2020.
Another armed robbery took place in November 2020, when a young couple had their possessions taken from them at gunpoint near Labrador Pool, which is a large waterhole flanked by two oak trees.
“We’re aware from our own observations and feedback from our partners that the greenspaces of Tokai are used as a means of access between the suburbs of Tokai, Kirstenhof and Constantia Hills, and that the density of vegetation and reduced visibility in parts of the greater area offer cover to criminals,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt added that the fence on the M3 is often cut and this appears to contribute to crime in the area as it enables more access to Tokai.
Parkscape stated that it is important for community and civic associations to keep watch over their own areas.
“Visible presence alerts would-be perpetrators that communities are watching, and partnerships and cooperation between organizations and security providers enables information to be swiftly shared with the authorities so that appropriate action may be taken,” said Schmidt.
He also said SANParks seems to lack the manpower to effectively patrol the entire national park and it is from this apparent shortfall that Parkscape draws its mandate from – to create safe urban parks for all.