Despite crippling arthritis in her hands and feet, 65-year-old retiree Tineke Kraal hiked for two hours from 4am-6am daily on Fromme Mountain: Quarry Court, Skull and an area of paths called the Rag Doll Zone to sabotage the trails used by mountain bikers.
You see, while Skull was designated for mountain biker use, Quarry Court was not, and Kraal took the law into her own hands, thinking the mountain bikers were wrecking the mountain trails and ruining them for hikers and everyone else. In a rather extreme attempt to slow the mountain bikers down, she occupied herself by laying branches and logs across the trails, accompanied by her two dogs in the wee hours of the morning, making a right royal nuisance of herself.
She was, however, foiled by two intrepid mountain bikers who set up infrared cameras to catch her campaign in action. It’s all quite entertaining except for the fact that her obstacles could have caused a rather nasty collision for unsuspecting cyclists, and ultimately the ‘mischief’ for which she was sentenced is classed as vandalism.
While Kraal’s actions seem rather extreme, and theoretically could have been dangerous, the reality is that nothing actually happened. Nonetheless, she was arrested and given a three-year suspended sentence, along with an agreement to stay away from the mountain trails, and 15 hours of community service.
That in itself all seems like a pretty heavy sentence for someone who’s intention was not so much nasty as it was misguided, especially given her solicitor’s postulation that she should be sentenced for what actually happened rather than what could have happened, which is to say, nothing at all.
What’s rather more absurd, however, is that Kraal seems to have been punished tenfold for her actions in the court of public opinion, with comments online including eloquent pontifications such as ‘screw that: just kill her’ thrown into the mix.
The end result is a very frightened if foolish woman, and what seems like rather heavy-handed use of the law. On the plus side, it does seem to have brought cyclists and hikers together in a united cause to make sure the trails are open and safe for all users in equal measure, and one can only hope that in the long term, that unity is the lasting legacy of a rather bizarre set of circumstances.