File photo: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Disgruntled dog lovers have questioned SANParks priorities after learning they could pay a hefty fine of R2 500 for walking their dogs in Table Mountain National Park without a dog-walking permit.

People vented their anger on social media after a hiker reported he was fined R2 500 for walking his dog without the My Activity Permit in Newlands Forest.

Hiker Simon Gobbler said he couldn’t believe it when he heard about the permit, as he always walked his dogs at Newlands Forest and has never seen a sign stating he needed a permit.

“We hike and walk with our dogs for protection, something we are not provided with. People have been complaining about break-ins in Newlands Forest and other Table Mountain National Park areas,” he said.

Parkscape chairperson Nicky Schmidt said when they asked SANParks staff about the R2 500, they were met with confusion and answers of “I don’t know” or “I think it’s R2 500”.

“The permit raises a number of questions, including if it can be upheld in a court of law. The public are frustrated because they didn’t know about the permit and, when they inquired about it, they were provided with website links but still couldn’t find the information they wanted. 

“The public might also not be aware because the last public engagement was in 2002,” said Schmidt.

SANParks spokesperson Lauren Clayton said the permit allows people to walk their dogs in designated areas within the Table Mountain National Park and for 12 months from date of purchase.

“Permits were introduced more than 10 years ago. My Activity Permit information is clearly displayed on notice boards before entering the park. The main member will pay R288 and each additional member will pay R106.

“Rates quoted are subject to the annual tariff increases on November 1. No more than two dogs per permit holder may be walked at a time. For additional dogs, members can apply for a special permit,” said Clayton.

She explained that the R2 500 fine was if someone failed to comply with any internal rules or prohibition, or instruction imposed by the Protected Areas Regulations by the management authority or authorised officials.

Failing to hand over a permit, or proof of entry on demand, or indicating withdrawal of permission to enter when requested to leave, would result in a R1 500 fine, she said.

The public can apply for the permit at the Tokai Plantation Office or contact +27 (0)21 712 7471 and email: [email protected]

Cape Times