Armed team to target mountain muggers?
By Caryn Dolley
An armed reaction team, more staff and the help of a tracking organisation is what Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) says are just a few steps necessary to boost its unsatisfactory security measures - but it cannot implement them without more money.
Since Friday, at least 15 muggings have been reported on Cape Town's mountain and a state of readiness security meeting will be held on September 17.
"We're not satisfied with the results we're getting," TMNP manager Brett Myrdal said on Monday.
"We're determined to make arrests and put out the message that crime doesn't pay on Table Mountain. But we're seeking funding to help us.
"This also affects the tourism industry. When people come to Cape Town we want them to be as safe as possible on the mountain. A lot of my friends say they don't even feel safe on the mountain anymore."
He said the TMNP asked for R5,4-million from the city to supplement its budget of R15,36-million to improve its visitor safety programme.
"We've put our money where our mouth is, but it isn't enough. We need to employ more staff, increase the number of CCTV surveillance cameras and have more dog patrols. This is urban crime and as tourism grows, we think this will too. But we're not at all daunted, we're determined. "
The TMNP had four CCTV cameras, 52 rangers patrolling the mountain daily and 200 volunteers at the weekend.
But Myrdal said they also needed an armed reaction team, because rangers were unarmed.
"We don't want them to carry weapons because we think they'll be targeted for them."
While volunteers were helping to report any suspicious characters, he said they needed better co-ordinated action and increased involvement from the SA Police Service.
"There's a great deal of enthusiasm among volunteers who are the eyes and ears of the mountain. But it's a challenge to co-ordinate all the action.
"However, we do encourage people to volunteer and reclaim the mountain."
Myrdal said the TMNP also planned to enlist the help of the non-profit organisation Cybertracking Conservation to help curb muggings.
Three years ago, as many as four muggings a week were reported at Noordhoek Beach and the tracking organisation had reduced this number to zero with no reports of robberies since 2004.
Louis Liebenberg, managing director of Cybertracking Conservation, said trained trackers were needed to "catch muggers red-handed".