Safety first at Joburg’s parks this holiday season

The recently opened Metro Park in Newtown.

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo has intensified safety measures at its parks and recreational venues to ensure that the public can take advantage of these open spaces without having to look over their shoulders.

Parks in the city are typically seen as suitable places for people to relax and enjoy themselves, said Matome Baholo, City Parks and Zoo’s manager of security and maintenance.

“However, such social interactions occasionally result in tragedies that are a consequence of alcohol and substance abuse. Also, criminals target overcrowded parks to pick their victims,” Baholo said.

In a bid to curb such incidents, City Parks and Zoo is partnering with law enforcement officials to conduct several blitzes and patrol operations to ensure the safety of all merrymakers.

From 10 December to 15 January the municipal entity together with its law enforcement partners will conduct operations to clamp down on potential incidences such as muggings, smash-and-grabs, common robbery, assault, rape, murder, dealing in drugs and possession of illegal firearms as well as other unlawful activities, Boholo said.

He said the patrol and blitz plans would focus predominantly on crime prevention and wiould entail searching visitors at park entrances, ensuring high visibility, conducting foot and vehicle patrols and the deployment of unmarked patrol vehicles.

“A well thought out programme of action focusing on the core business of the City Park’s Rangers Unit and [Metro polices’] Parks Patrol Unit will be rolled out,” he said.

According to the municipal entity, more than 150 officials will be deployed to strategic areas and almost 40 vehicles will be made available.

Boholo conceded that park wardens had noticed a spike in bylaw transgressions over the years during the festive season.

These included public drinking, urinating in public, vandalism, vagrancy, misuse of open spaces by people on quad bikes and motorbikes, hosting of illegal events, bootlegging and illegal dumping.

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