Helicopter boosts fight against crime on TMNP

Poaching suspects arrested at Cape Point by the SEAM Team.
The Airbus H125 rotary-winged aircraft.

The deployment of the Airbus H125 rotary-winged aircraft earlier this month is set to improve the response rate to incidents taking place around Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP) this festive season.

The helicopter, which arrived in Cape Town on December 17, has been used in various operations and will be operating across TMNP until early January.

It will assist the special operations ranger team and the K9 unit to patrol the Sea, Air and Mountain (SEAM) areas.

TMNP regional communications manager, Lauren Howard-Clayton, said: “The helicopter will allow us to coordinate an improved response rate to incidents while also being able to send out multiple deployments in risky areas at a much faster rate, than if we did the same by vehicle or foot.

“We believe the proactive visible presence will support our efforts to deter criminal elements,” she said.

Ms Howard-Clayton said the TMNP team are working according to a flight plan. The helicopter will be used for the deployment of special operators to particular locations, to provide high visibility over the busier festive periods.

“Our main intention is to use the helicopter as a force multiplier to support rangers on vessels, vehicles and on foot,” she said.

A few incidents have already taken place at different TMNP locations this month. On December 15, a 33-year old woman fell off the first ladder at Lion’s Head and a hiker was stabbed near Woodstock cave at Tafelberg Road while six cars were burgled at Lion’s Head parking lot on December 9.

Responding to these incidents, Ms Clayton said: “These types of incidents are common in Cape Town, and TMNP being an urban park with a porous boundary, means that the crime spills over, from the urban areas into the parks.”

She said the specially fitted equipment on the helicopter will provide real-time intelligence to the ranger teams and K9 units working on the ground, during visible patrolling.

TMNP manager Frans van Rooyen said during the first week of the special operation, rangers using the Airbus H125 rotary-winged aircraft caught and arrested three poachers who were linked to the illegal harvesting of abalone.

Mr Rooyen said: “Thank you to the SEAM team rangers, K9 unit and the SANParks pilots for a spectacular job, well done.”

SEAM teams have been deployed across TMNP locations to support visible policing operations during the festive season.