Cape Town - Attacks on hikers and cyclists on Table Mountain have increased, with about six violent recorded incidents from January 1.
Table Mountain Watch spokesperson Andre van Schalkwyk said over the festive season there were no reported attacks on the mountain trails. Last year, there were 59 attacks on cyclists and hikers.
“I think there will always be hotspots from time to time. We are adopting a federated model where each community around the park should get together and find solutions to address their particular issues. This is working in Tokai, as a great example, and down south with #SafeSouthHikes and with clubs like Hikers Paradise with their #tbom hikes,” said Van Schalkwyk.
Table Mountain Watch said the first attack for the year took place on January 3. There were a number of attacks by one perpetrator, first on a cyclist, then two runners in the Higgovale Quarry area. Then on January 5, a cyclist was stabbed, also in the Higgovale area.
On January 9, there was an attack on the contour path near the India Venster start. Three people were mugged by one suspect.
On January 26 a Canadian tourist ran away from four knife-wielding attackers in the Mowbray Ridge, Rhodes Memorial, Blockhouse area. He had to be rescued by Wilderness Search and Rescue after becoming stuck on a ledge.
A female runner was attacked in Tokai Forest and two people were attacked on February 19 in Kleinplaas. One was shot in the leg.
Cyclist Ebbe Spaarwater was attacked while he was trying to cycle up the Molteno trail around 5pm on a Monday evening. He was attacked by a man who seemed to be just walking up the trail.
“The uphill was steep, and I noticed the guy walking up, but I didn’t think anything of it. As I got close to him, he asked for something. I said that I am riding and I don’t have anything. Then, again, when I was a few metres from of him, he asked again and I said I don’t have anything. I realised that he might be up to something, so I turned around and decided to go down,” said Spaarwater.
As he was about to go down, the suspect grabbed Spaarwater’s back pocket and sent him flying onto the ground.
“He then saw my phone, and we both went for it. He got to it first. When he picked up my phone, he also picked up a rock in his other hand. He stretched his hand above his head and then hit me on my helmet. The helmet broke. If I didn’t have it, I probably would have died from the impact.”
He said he is scared and the fun of riding on the mountain had gone.
Wana Bacela, area manager for the northern section of Table Mountain National Park, said it had five armed robberies this year and no arrests had been made, but all have incidents had been reported to the SAPS for investigation. He said about 58 rangers were working day and night shifts seven days a week.
Van Schalkwyk advised hikers and cyclists not to go alone on trails and to call 021 480 7700 and 021 937 0300 when in trouble.