The state of play

Phil Flockton, Rondebosch

I met with officials of the City Parks department (on a number of matters) shortly after the accident at the children’s playground involving Kate Luyt who had trapped a leg under a roundabout.

We inspected the roundabout and concluded that it was not necessary to relocate it for reasons of safety.

During the many years of the association’s existence that incident has been the only one in which someone had become partially trapped (although many children have fallen from it as they tend to do).

We sympathise with Julie Luyt and of course with Kate for the pain that she suffered, and we are pleased to learn that she has fully recovered although naturally she may always be wary of roundabouts.

The association has plans for various improvements in our park including a major upgrade of the central play area. This will include additional equipment, the repositioning of some of the existing equipment, paving (both hard and resilient – similar to the new Mouille Point lighthouse playground) as well as benches and picnic tables. Initial sketch plans were prepared earlier this year and submitted to the City for discussion. The final position of all play items has yet to be agreed.

As part of the playground planning, I researched play equipment manufacturers one of whom was Bokkie, whom your reporter approached “to offer insights into the matter” of the allegedly dangerous roundabout. You report that the company “provided documents advising that roundabouts should be installed on level ground”. Presumably it was on the basis of that advice that your front page photograph shows that ours is not on a level surface.

It was strange advice from Bokkie. Their website includes just two images of their own roundabouts, both of which are installed on surfaces which slope as much or more than ours.

The association sometimes hears of children falling from trees or off logs or hurting themselves in one of the playgrounds but all playground equipment is potentially harmful if used incorrectly or age inappropriately, and even under circumstances of close adult supervision, accidents happen. Many of us have scars to show for it, whether physical or mental.

The local community and the association understand that the City has budgetary constraints and that parks in less advantaged areas than ours must take priority.

In Keurboom Park, we have a history of very substantial community financial involvement wherein both the City and the park users contribute to upgrades and to certain ongoing maintenance.

It is likely that the work planned for the playground will also need to be financed jointly. We are hoping that the upgrade will happen during 2017.

Patricks Uys, owner of Bokkie Playground, responds:

I will certainly look into the issue of any photographs on the website showing roundabouts installed on uneven ground, but what I can categorically state is that while the ground on the side of the roundabout may slope away, the platform on which it is installed must always be even.

In this instance there was a huge gap that existed because of the uneven platform, resulting in the little girl’s injury.

The fact still remains that one child hurt is one child too many. You always have to address the possible danger, and not wait for things to happen.