Take Back Our Mountains urges people to explore Table Mountain in large groups following recent criminal activities. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - This Sunday a group of hikers will take to Steenberg Peak to raise awareness over criminal activities at the Table Mountain National Park. 

The group, Take Back Our Mountains, has been hosting hikes since 2018 to reclaim areas that have been affected by crime. 

The group began in response to an attack in January last year, when nine hikers were attacked and stabbed on the Kalk Bay trail near Silvermine. 

This violent attack spurred fed-up residents to demand increased security and surveillance in the national park. 

Take Back Our Mountains provides a safe place for people who are interested in hiking, but who may be reluctant to try some routes because of the threat of crime. 

The group sees the hiking events as an act of reclamation. Rather than staying inside and fearing criminals that may lurk in these natural areas, Take Back Our Mountains wants to help show people that there are ways to enjoy them safely. 

Table Mountain and other popular hiking spots are easy targets for muggings and other crimes as criminals hide along low-traffic areas of trails and threaten people. 

Founder Taahir Osman says that the group plans events in areas that are known to be high crime hot spots. 

In February, a hiker was shot in the leg during an armed robbery at Kleinplaas Dam in Simon’s Town. The group has set its sights on the trail for its March event. 

Take Back Our Mountains has over 2 900 followers on Facebook and has hosted over 18 successful group hikes. Recently they partnered with SANParks to ensure that hikers are aware of safety practices and have a group to explore with. 

In addition to ensuring that the mountains are safe for hikers, the group also works to preserve the natural beauty of the area. They have begun offering hikes with the sole purpose of cleaning up trails. This past weekend they took eight people to clean up Tafelberg Road and collected over 17 bags of rubbish. 

Osman and his group are working to make sure that Table Mountain National Park and other areas remain safe areas for public use. He urged anyone interested in hiking these areas to “join our group hikes or any other hiking clubs and avoid hiking in small groups in crime-affected areas”.

“Use busy trails like Lionshead, Platteklip Gorge, and Constantia Nek and try to go in the mornings when trails are busy.” 

To find out more information on trail safety and see upcoming events search “Take Back Our Mountains” on Facebook.

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