Table Mountain remains unsafe for vulnerable hikers
Cape Town – The case against two men suspected of targeting hikers on Table Mountain has been postponed until Monday for a bail application at the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court.
It was reported last week that South African National Parks rangers conducted an operation, following a number of complaints of hikers being attacked on popular hiking trails.
The men matched descriptions provided by the victims of the latest three incidents.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said earlier in the week Simon’s Town police were called for assistance by Table Mountain National Park rangers and arrested two suspects aged 23 and 37.
“The suspects were charged with possession of dangerous weapons and possession of drugs, at this stage they are not linked to any other crimes,” she said.
Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila confirmed the case against Joshua Fredericks and Leroy Rubain has been postponed.
South African National Parks spokesperson Lauren Clayton said since the new year there have not been many attacks at the Table Mountain National Park.
“The attacks have been fairly minimal, lockdown played a part because people are at home or at work and many people are abiding by the lockdown regulations,” she said.
She said compared to this time last year, they had received 11 reports but only five to date this year.
Clayton said they have rangers on the ground day and night, even though they can’t be everywhere at once.
Peninsula Ramblers Hiking Club chairperson Tony Serafin said they have been fortunate not to have had any of their members attacked.
“We have not had such incidents but we are aware of muggings and they are on the rise when people are back on the mountain,” he said.
He said they have their safety measures in place when hiking and they do not leave people stranded.
Serafin said they prefer for their members not to spread while hiking and there are always a dozen people.
“Once we start hiking we don’t allow strangers to join us and we ask people to be aware who they are hiking with,” he said.
Tim Lundy, of Cape Town Hiking with Tim Lundy, said they also never experienced any form of attacks while hiking. He said he heard about the two men that were arrested.
“A friend of one of the members raised the alarm to SanParks who reacted swiftly, resulting in the suspects being arrested,” he said.
He said there are areas on the mountain that have been hotspots for some time.
Lundy said as a group, they try to stay away from hotspots because the muggers have an modus operandi.
“They hide behind bushes and know people are coming. The next thing they jump in front of you,” he said.
He added that people need to leave their belongings behind.
“People must leave their wallets behind, they are not going to buy anything on the mountain and if they have to bring their cellphones, they must hide them because these guys are desperate for anything valuable,” he said.