Cape Town - A British couple who survived a brutal stabbing and stoning on Table Mountain exactly five years ago have returned on the anniversary of the attack to join forces with hikers in fighting against a spate of robberies.
This as safety in the Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP) has once again been spotlighted following recent crime incidents.
In the latest one, TMNP Rangers apprehended a suspect linked to a robbery and attempted rape at Lion’s Head on Sunday.
The woman victim was robbed of her belongings while hiking on Lion’s Head, said SANParks TMNP.
The arrest came as a result of a joint operation between SANParks Rangers, City of Cape Town metro police and law enforcement officers who located the suspect and successfully managed to retrieve the woman’s belongings.
The suspect was subsequently arrested and the victim opened a criminal case against the perpetrator.
Police spokesperson FC Van Wyk confirmed that a 23-year-old suspect was arrested on Sunday on two charges – robbery with a knife and attempted rape. The suspect is expected to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court tomorrow.
Van Wyk said the police would oppose the bail application.
Friends of Table Mountain chairperson Andy Davies said that on TMNP, the primary safety incidents were muggings and that according to current statistics, Signal Hill, the pipetrack above Camps Bay and the slopes of Devil’s Peak were considered hot spot areas.
“However, we have identified about 16 hot spots in total throughout TMNP that need active policing,” Davies said.
In January 2018, Don and Yvonne Cormack, from Harlow in Essex, made local and international headlines after they were stabbed and attacked while part of a group hike near Silvermine.
Don, who was 71 at the time, was stabbed nine times and hospitalised while Yvonne was stabbed while trying to protect her husband.
On Sunday, Don, now 77, and Yvonne, 73, found themselves back on the local hiking trails, this time to stand united against the muggings which have been plaguing Cape Town in recent months, with more than 20 incidents reported in TMNP.
Take Back Our Mountain in conjunction with Hikers Network took hikers along the trail from Grootkop, Red Hill and Kleinplaas Dam to create awareness and educate hikers. Don and Yvonne bravely joined in after hearing about the latest incidents.
Recalling the tragic day, Don said they refused to give up because of support from local hikers and organisations.
“After our incident, I remember thinking I’m not coming back to Cape Town. A few days later, I had such support from fellow hikers. There was always someone at my bedside and giving Yvonne support while I was in hospital.
“I feel now if I didn’t hike, the attackers would have won. It is such a beautiful country and they (criminals) are robbing it of all of its dignity. And for what, a camera or watch?”
Yvonne added that hiking was their passion and that they would not be robbed of it.
Anwaaz Bent, a former member of Wilderness Search and Rescue and president of The Hikers Network said their aim was to highlight the safety of hikers and to educate them.
“We collaborated to bring about awareness due to the spate of muggings occurring all over the mountain. We also created a safe hike, in an area called Grootkop, where people hardly go now due to the muggings and armed robberies.
“On the day of the hike, there were three mugging incidents, two on Lion’s Head and one at Llandudno.”
Bent said criminals were not only robbing hikers and tourists of their personal belongings, but the spectacular view that trails such as Grootkop offer.
Taahir Osman, founding member of Take Back Our Mountain, said that they were uniting as the park terrain covered 27 000 hectares and felt one organisation could not do the work alone.