Consumer Watch

Wendy Knowler fights for your rights...

John Scott Masthead
September 29 2011 at 12:00

When the Dangerous Weapons Bill becomes law, we may all be able to walk on the mountain again without being mugged.

The bill prohibits the carrying of any items which may be used to injure or threaten people, including crossbows, swords, lances and war axes. This will certainly cramp the style of criminals who normally secrete such armaments on their persons.

Even smaller weapons such as penknives will be illegal unless the possessor can prove he or she has no intention of using them to divest people of their valuables.

No longer need we fear the click of a penknife being opened and the dread words “your money or your life”.

Instead, if anyone jumps out from behind a rock or bush brandishing a weapon listed under Appendix A, I shall ward them off by explaining they are in direct contravention of the new law and that unless they desist from their anti-social behaviour I would be obliged to lay a charge against them as soon as I reached the safety of a police station.

Why nobody thought of this strategy before, I cannot imagine.

But until the bill is approved, I shall refrain from hiking at various mountain hot spots where security guards seem incapable of protecting occasional victims. One is the area above Rhodes Memorial. Another is Lion’s Head. A few days ago there were two attacks on the slopes of Karbonkelberg, above Hout Bay.

While I wouldn’t dream of walking on Karbonkelberg these days, I have a sentimental attachment to it. The first time I ever walked to the top of a mountain alone with my first wife, though we weren’t even courting at that stage, was on Karbonkelberg.

Barbara was also involved in another Karbonkelberg escapade. She, an old climbing buddy named Donald who subsequently emigrated to Australia, and I set out to walk round the base of the mountain from Hout Bay harbour to Sandy Bay.

But we got stuck on the cliffs above the sea, spent the night in a cave, and only reached Sandy Bay next morning.

Meanwhile a search party had been organised by our respective parents, and the first person we met staggering down the sand dune with a shooting stick and a flask of brandy, like a latter-day St Bernard, was my father’s old pal Bill Rawson (uncle of the similarly-named property agent).

We told him we didn’t need any brandy, so he had a swig or two himself.

“You’d better make yourselves scarce, young men,” he warned Donald and me. “This young lady’s father is after you with a shotgun.”

Once the new law is passed, we would have been able to tell him that Barbara’s dad was acting illegally if he were so armed.

Guns may also not be used to mug people, of course, unless you have a licence for them.

Unfortunately, at least 18 000 of them that were licensed have been mislaid by the police and are now presumably in the hands of people who haven’t bothered to report a change of ownership.

A lot of police have been saying to themselves: “I know I put it down somewhere.” A bit like my wife with her keys and reading glasses.

So if I am accosted on the mountain by a gun-wielding mugger, I plan to say: “I hope that’s not one of the police’s missing 18 000 weapons. If it is, you are in serious trouble, my man.”

That should scare him off.

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