An entry on a Wikipedia page about Burman Bush says: “Do not go there. Robberies happen at gunpoint on the trails.”
Durban - Harsh words greet visitors to a Wikipedia search on Burman Bush, a nature reserve in Morningside, Durban.

Before you can read a summary of what the reserve offers, you first read in capital letters, “Do not go there. Robberies happen at gunpoint on the trails.”

According to Wikipedia, the 50-hectare Burman Bush is situated about 8km north of the CBD and comprises a small coastal forest which forms part of the Durban Municipal Open Space System.

Durban resident Graham Thompson, his wife and son were robbed in the reserve on Saturday.

Thompson said they were on the trail when his wife spotted a man in the bushes with a gun.

He said they tried to run up another pathway, but the man caught up with them.

“This is his hunting ground. He told us he had a gun and we must not look at him.

“He demanded that I put my bag down on the ground. The bag had my wallet, phone and water bottle,” Thompson said.

“He ran off. Despite the valiant efforts of the police, he got away. My cards and keys were found in Springfield Park,” he said.

“We met another person in the parking lot who was also robbed.

“Fortunately, we stopped about five other carloads of people from going into Burman Bush.

“I have no doubt there have been other robberies by the same guy,” Thompson said.

Martin Meyer, eThekwini ward 27 councillor, said that the fence needed urgent attention, but added that there were bigger issues there.

“This park is a potential tourism hot spot ignored by the city. It has only four staff members.

“I am planning a community get-together in September in the park, which will also be used as a springboard to launch the Friends of Burman Bush and Conservancy to assist us with restoring this gem to a shining jewel in our city,” he said.

Harsh words greet visitors to a Wikipedia search on Burman Bush, a nature reserve in Morningside, Durban.

Meyer said the parks department was budgeting to fix and upgrade the fencing.

The eThekwini central cluster crime prevention unit from Durban Central, Berea and Mayville had been deployed to the area for the past month, said Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane, KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson.

“An increase in the number of patrols, stop-and-search and using blue-light visibility have achieved positive results.

“Since then, there have been no robberies reported in Burman Bush and surroundings,” Zwane said.

Police have warned people not to walk alone in the reserve, especially at night, while those with vehicles must make sure doors and windows are locked.

Motorists are also being warned not to stop to give directions to unknown people as criminals will use that moment to strike.

Zwane said people should report anything suspicious to the police, who are patrolling 24hours a day.

Phillip Sithole, the head of tourism in Durban, was out of the country and could not comment.

The eThekwini Municipality said it would respond once it had collated all the information from the relevant unit.

Another resident, Llewellyn-Tamara Dickson, said robberies at the park were an ongoing problem.

“I assisted some youngsters about five years ago who went through the same ordeal. Pity that not much has been done since then, yet we are urged to take the nature trails to save the reserve,” Dickson said.

Helen Clementz Good, also a resident, said the fence had been breached in several places and people lurked in the reserve.

“We need a spotlight shone on this situation, and a good solid fence and police presence. Having the parks department running Burman Bush is hopeless.”

Burman Bush possibly holds the remains of the original Durban forest that covered the entire Berea dating back more than 200 years.

According to Wikipedia, among the trees found in ­reserve are flat-crowns, forest fever-berry and red beech; the reserve has three walking trails, the Pithi (500m), Hadedah (1km) and Forest Olive (2km); and a viewing platform at the outer walk’s northern extremity allows sweeping views of the uMngeni River, from Connaught Bridge to the Blue Lagoon.

Daily News