We all deserve to enjoy our city's beauty in safety

If one is not able to jog in a place like Tokai Forest without fear of being mugged or even killed, there is something seriously wrong, writes Ryland Fisher.

There are some places in Cape Town considered almost sacred. These are places where families can mingle and one can interact with nature in a relaxed environment. One thinks immediately of the mountain and the many beaches dotting the peninsula.

One such place associated with tranquillity is Tokai Forest. But this tranquillity was destroyed this week by the killing of a teenage girl, Franziska Blöchliger.

Franziska’s body was found in the bushes at Tokai Forest on Monday, a few hours after she went missing.

Hopefully, we will hear what happened to her when the accused go to trial and her family will be able to have some closure. But the outrage at her murder is justified.

No one should be taken away in such a mindless manner, especially not someone as young as Franziska.

As a father of three daughters, I feel extremely distraught whenever I hear about such incidents.

I worry about my daughters when they are on the road, although they are adults; now I will probably worry even more.

A father’s concern for his daughters never ends.

But even if I did not have daughters, I would have found this incident disturbing.

One of the key rights of any citizen – irrespective of race or class – is to be safe. If one is not able to jog in a place like Tokai Forest without fear of being mugged or even killed, there is something seriously wrong.

I am one of many who enjoy walking on the mountain and I used to enjoy walking by myself. It gave me time to reflect on issues, think about the challenges I face and often come up with solutions to problems that seemed complicated.

There was nothing I enjoyed more than being alone on the mountain, at peace with nature.

Lately, I have been far more careful about where and when I walk and I no longer do so alone. One cannot help but be influenced by reports of people mugged on the mountain.

Tokai Forest is a place people from all over Cape Town frequent, whether it be to braai, picnic or begin a hike in the mountains. It is peaceful at times, raucous at others, but always a place of beauty enjoyed by many.

It will now forever be associated with murder, irrespective of the outcome of any trial.

There are those who have questioned the media coverage generated by this murder. They have raised issues of race and class and want to know why certain other murders, in less privileged areas, did not attract the same amount of attention.

I sincerely believe this criticism unjustified. If a young, black, homeless girl had been killed in Tokai Forest, I suspect the outrage would have been as great.

It is partly about the age of the victim and partly that it happened in what is supposedly a safe space.

The media have given plenty of publicity to the murders of poor young women in less affluent areas. The most high-profile of these was the case of Anene Booysen, the 17-year-old who was gang-raped and brutally murdered in Bredasdorp.

There are also people who will talk about the impact of this murder on tourism. While this should be a worry, because of the contribution tourism makes to our economy, I think this should not be the major concern. The major concern should be how we make our city safe so young and old, rich and poor, men and women can enjoy the beauty it offers.

Why do criminals have to dictate the way we live and force those who can afford this to put up electric fences and engage private security companies?

Many in Cape Town live in poorer areas where there are no private security companies or electric fences. Those people have as much a right to feel safe as others in more affluent areas.

Incidents such as the killing of Franziska should provoke not only outrage, especially among the leaders in our city, but also an undertaking to accept the challenge of creating a safer city.

The best legacy to leave for this innocent, young girl is to ensure this does not happen again – not in Tokai Forest, not in Khayelitsha and not in Mitchells Plain. One death such as this is one too many.

(First published in the Weekend Argus on Saturday 12 March 2016)