South Africa: Sanparks Ranger Fired Over Social Media Activity, Not Over Drowning Concerns

The SA National Parks (SANParks) has denied that it fired an employee for alleging that mismanagement of a dam in the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) was leading to drownings, saying it was actually his "malicious" statements on social media over the matter that got him sacked.

"In fact, his dismissal was due to failure from his part to adhere to SANParks procedures in respect of social media engagements as well as failure to make use of mandatory grievance procedure," regional general manager for the Wester Cape, Norman Johnson, was quoted as saying in a statement.

In the statement "to set the record straight" regarding why former employee Alfrido Dixon was fired in 2017, SANParks said there had been four drownings at the Rhodes Memorial dam since 2016.

"We can confirm that from 2016 to date there has been four drownings that occurred at the Rhodes Memorial Dam and all the case were recorded with the South African Police Service, Rondebosch Station... thus, the cover up allegation made by Mr Dixon is simply malicious and untruthful."

He alleged that Dixon's conduct statement made against SANParks and its management at TMNP put the organisation into disrepute.

"... particularly when he had failed to exercise his right to appeal his dismissal or approach the [Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration] for any recourse since 2017."

In the statement, SANParks explained that the Rhodes Memorial dam is a water catchment dam that is used as water storage for putting fires out, and traps excess spring water from the mountain.

It was never intended for a recreational use, including swimming, and signage around the fence indicates this. It also states that there are no lifeguards on duty and that swimming is prohibited.

However, the fence and signage have been vandalised and the dam accessed illegally.

But Dixon told News24 SANParks was trying to shift the blame.

He said he had sent internal emails raising his concerns about the dam, and after no action, he put it on social media out of concern for public safety.

"That's why I went and put it on social media," he said.

He was fired in 2017, and still believes strongly that his ultimate responsibility as a SANParks ranger was to protect the public and that he did the right thing by going the social media route after other avenues failed.

- Compiled by Jenni Evans

Source: News24

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