- Cape hikers attacked with panga, knife
- Self Defence in the Mountains – What can you do for self defence whilst on the mountain during a hike / mountain bike / climb?
A resurgence of mountain crime saw a cyclist bound and gagged by panga-wielding robbers on a Tokai trail, while two US tourists were assaulted and robbed on Table Mountain barely 24 hours later.
Now furious cyclists say they’re being forced off mountain trails in the south peninsula, and have to migrate to the safer northern suburbs as they fear for their lives.
The incidents have put problem of criminals operating along mountain routes back in the spotlight.
About five years ago the Community Safety Department set up a group to deal with the issue, and about two years ago the situation made international headlines when a Norwegian exchange student was attacked on Signal Hill, and later raped.
In the latest crime, the two US tourists were held up on the popular Platteklip Gorge hiking route at about 8.15am on Friday.
Merle Collins, regional spokeswoman for South African National Parks (SANParks), said a man dressed in hiking gear approached the two women, then took out a knife and robbed them.
“During the robbery (they) were pushed around,” she said.
Collins said the tourists reported the incident, and the mugger was arrested 30 minutes later.
“Rangers cordoned off the area and closed down all possible escape routes. The mugger was arrested… He was positively identified and all the stolen goods were found and returned to the owners,” she said.
In the attack on the cyclist, who declined to speak to the media, the man was ambushed on the Tokai trail at about 10am on Thursday while returning from the Constantiaberg radio mast.
Robert Vogel, founder of the Table Mountain Bikers group to which the cyclist belongs, said the man had detailed the attack in an e-mail.
“I was attacked… while coming down from the mast on my own, near to the path down to Hout Bay. Four men armed with knives and pangas.
“They stole whatever they could, tied me up and slashed my tyres. I was not injured.
“This is no longer a safe place to ride alone.”
The cyclist said the muggers had probably been planning to target hikers too.
Table Mountain National Parks staff had been helpful when he reported the attack, he added.
Rangers later found the cyclist’s bike.
Police spokesman Captain Frederick van Wyk said no arrests were made, and the robbery was being investigated.
Vogel said it was not the first time criminals had operated in the vicinity of where the attack took place. In March two cyclists were robbed and a runner tied up and mugged.
On Friday Pedal Power Association chairman Steve Hayward said Thursday’s attack highlighted the broader issue of cyclists being targeted on the mountain.
“It is a major problem because it’s happening on a more continuous basis on the mountain,” he said, urging the authorities to come up with new ways to tackle the issue.
He said the association had donated a dog to the Table Mountain National Park’s rangers, and would consider funding other initiatives to boost safety.
Hayward confirmed that many cyclists who lived near these trails had started joining clubs in the northern suburbs to avoid falling victim to criminals operating on the mountain.
“The Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club has seen a phenomenal growth… There you’re riding on private farms, and volunteers police the area,” he said.
Max Menzies, a Noordhoek cyclist who rides regularly in the area where the attack took place, said he was fed up with criminals constantly targeting cyclists.
He said cyclists feared being mugged on roads, and now mountains.
Menzies was nearly mugged in the vicinity about two years ago.
Cyclists had started avoiding mountains, he confirmed.
“We’re just not going there anymore.
“We can’t do early morning rides, we can’t ride alone… Slowly but surely they’re strangling us,” Menzies said of the criminals.
“So many of my friends, living on the doorstep of the mountain, are not using it anymore… People are going to the northern suburbs. There are better facilities and they ensure our safety.”
Yesterday Louis Loubser, chairman of the Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club, said the club’s membership had grown. Aside from the sport growing in popularity, another reason was because of cyclists concerned about their safety.
“There are certainly members belonging to Tygerberg from further out, like the southern suburbs and Stellenbosch,” he said.