Cape Town - The Mountain Club of SA (Cape Town Section) advised its members on Thursday of the increasing possible threats to their personal safety while hiking and climbing in and around the Table Mountain National Park.
In a statement, the club urged its members to exercise caution when planning hiking routes. This as The Vine, which will be hosting a monthly fund-raiser, announced on Facebook that a "number of us are working on a proposal to get funding for Mountain Men to assist with the security on Table Mountain on top of the plan that government will be rolling out next week".
"If you use the mountain this affects you and I urge you to take action rather than just sit on your hands and wait for others to do something."
The Table Mountain Security Action Group (TMSAG) is also "actively lobbying all the authorities to come up with a meaningful plan to protect mountain users".
According to the Mountain Club of SA, there are currently very few areas that can be considered completely safe and it advised hikers to be aware of areas that have seen a recent escalation in crime.
"The recent series of assaults on trail runners and hikers on the Saddle at the top of Newlands Ravine, as well as on walkers, hikers, runners and cyclists in Newlands forest, represent a significant shift in the level of violence involved, unfortunately similar to that of the tragic attacks in the Kalk Bay and Karbonkelberg areas earlier this year.
"The MCSA (Cape Town Section) is integrally involved with the Table Mountain Security Action Group (TMSAG), an initiative involving over forty mountain user groups, neighbourhood watches and security associations, who are pursuing positive actions behind the scenes to combat these hazards in very difficult circumstances.
"The TMSAG is actively lobbying ALL the authorities to come up with a meaningful plan to protect mountain users – locals, visitors and tourists alike – and to apprehend those who would threaten us in what should be a safe and peaceful environment."
The Newlands Ravine attack suspects have been remanded in custody while the SAPS investigates their possible involvement in recent similar cases. Some of them are already wanted for crimes not related to the TMNP.
Mountain Club of South Africa tips
Newlands Forest in its entirety, Newlands Ravine, the Saddle behind Devil’s Peak, the slopes of Devil’s Peak, the Blockhouses and nearby mountain biking trails.
All these areas have seen several assaults recently and while some of the perpetrators have, of late, been apprehended, others remain at large. There are also reports of people living there, hence the increased risks.
Other areas considered to pose a risk to safety
Signal Hill and Lion’s Head, Noordhoek & Kommetjie Beach, Sandy Bay & Karbonkelberg, Vlakkenberg, Blackburn Ravine, Elephant’s Eye, Kleinplaas Dam area, Black Hill and Red Hill, Slangkop, Peer’s Cave and Sunrise Beach.
Currently, these include Silvermine East and the Kalk Bay mountains, where there have been fewer reports of incidents of late, while Cape Point, Silvermine West, the Back Table, Orange Kloof and the Apostles remain relatively crime-free at the present time.
A significant increase in the number of vehicle break-ins is occurring at the end of Tafelberg Road, at the Rhodes Memorial parking areas and on Signal Hill Road.
1. Hike in a group. While this does not preclude being attacked, it may serve as a deterrent.
2. Be aware of potential threats. The suddenness of an attack leads to panic, which may exacerbate the situation. An alert, obviously aware group, poses a harder target.
3. If attacked, it is advisable NOT to resist. Handing over your “valuables” decreases the chances of being harmed (although unfortunately, this is not always the case).
4. In the event that you can see that an attack is imminent, hide your cellphone in the vegetation or rocks, so that you are able to summon help much faster afterwards.
5. Keep the emergency contact numbers on your phones. Check that all members of the party have these numbers. Also keep those numbers somewhere on your person.
6. Keep a lookout on social media for the various "Safe Hikes" and "Take Back Our Mountain" initiatives, in which the MCSA is an active participant, and lend your support. These are proving to be highly successful.
Emergency numbers (for crime or accident situations)
021 937 0300
Metro Emergency Medical Services, who will activate Mountain Rescue, and have the ability to escalate your call to all relevant agencies.
021 480 7700
Public Emergency Communication Centre, which is the central control for reporting crime on the mountain or anywhere else.
These control centres can easily communicate with each other and all emergency services and are currently your best options.
It is utterly unacceptable that we are forced to endure the threat of violence while enjoying our mountains and beaches.
The MCSA is striving, along with many other mountain user groups, to do whatever we can to combat crime, keep up pressure on the authorities, and to work towards evolving solutions to improve safety.