Ambushed in the Table Mountain Reserve

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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.

He said:

“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.

Source:  iol.co.za

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14 Responses to Ambushed in the Table Mountain Reserve

  1. Michael Jan 26, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    There is only one fix for this ongoing crime in SA. We need to change the gun laws to make it legal to carry guns unconcealed, and people need to buy and carry guns. Just like in the USA, many people carry guns. There is a very good chance that if you mess about with someone, you will be shot. In SA, people need to arm themselves, especially in the hills. I for one never used to think this way, but the constant lip service from police and government on crime issues has led us to just one way: look after yourself, and you own. We carry guns in the hills. Come and jump our group next time you cowards, see what happens.

    • wes Jan 26, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

      Wouldn’t it make it easier for the criminal to rob you of your gun? So many police officers have been murdered for their firearms that they leave it at the station.

      The best way to combat against these attacks is to remain vigilant and get identikits of the attackers as quickly as possible to the community as a whole.

    • Justin Lawson Jan 26, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

      Whilst firearms are a good means of defence, it will not work whilst you’re out doing your sport in the Table Mountain Reserve.

      What Wes says + these guys come out of hiding incredibly fast (too fast for most people to react). Then, by law… unless they are threatening your life, you may not pull out your firearm.
      i.e. they can steal your gear and you’re not allowed to do anything (in the way of threatening someone with a firearm).

      You’re also not allowed to leave your firearm unattended, so you would have to redpoint your project with +- an extra kilogram strapped to you 🙂
      I could go on… but basically arming mountain goers will not work.

    • AUNDRE SCHULTZ [ onehand ] Feb 4, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

      Yo Michael, seems like the lunatic fringe of anti-gun lobyists came to the party, making bold statements, then adding a rider, but , what if, however, typical lack of testicular fortitude types who will shit themselves if they even see a “gun”. You guys are living in a dream world, i wonder how your oppinion will change if u get confronted. If u own a gun and dont know how and when to use it efectivly , u deserve to have it taken away from u , legaly or ilegaly. u cant take a knife to a gunfight, shoot the fucker thru the knee so a surgen has to take it off, wont bother others again. News will spread like a southeaster wildfire. But that will never happen to us, bcoz it be like winning the lottery. Cant wait for the three braincell types to comment.

  2. Michael Jan 26, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    Good points guys, I agree that it does open one up to having your firearm stolen. Firearms come with a huge responsibility, and excellent training is needed to own own effectively.

    The point I’m making is that if most people carried guns, and they were visible, the criminals would think twice each time they try to commit a crime. It would act as a deterrent. They love to prey on weakness, as cowards normally do. I’m of the opinion that gun laws need to be revised. If someone jumps over my wall, onto my property, I should be allowed to shoot them, there and then. When criminals have more human rights than those of honest, hard working, law abiding people we end up where we are today.

    Let’s face it, TMNP/SANParks has been talking for years. When has anyone seen armed patrols in the hills to stamp out these gangs? Certainly, it’s very difficult to be everywhere at once, like remote places at Tokai, but on top of TM, in peak season? Or Lion’s head? I just don’t buy it anymore. Sad that it’s come to this, honestly it is.

    Stay safe everyone

    • henkg Jan 27, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

      Agreed that arming mountain users is a bad idea.

      However, one is allowed to defend your property, as long as the use of force is in proportion to the attack.

      Also, the believe that you (or another person) are in immediate danger would be adequate grounds to use a fire arm. An attacker approaching with a knife/panga on close range would fit this description.

      Still, better to hand over your stuff (this can be replaced). Resisting the attack will probably amplify the violence.

  3. Warren Gans Jan 27, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    So you’re proposing arming cyclists, here are some more reasons why its a kak idea:

    1. Its a training ride, so the cyclists will probably be tired, making reaction times slower and accuracy worse
    2. Carrying guns will lead to more accidents.
    3. Guns up the stakes: would you be willing to protect your stuff to the death?
    4. Adding valuable items like guns to a cyclist makes them a more enticing target.

  4. Michael Jan 28, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

    I’m not proposing anything Warren. You have your own choices to make. I disagree on your point #2. Firearm training is important in being competent. On your point 3, I think you miss the point there. When someone attacks you in the hills, they don’t come and ask you you nicely for your bag. They use a weapon as a form of threat in the proposition. This is what the protection is for. But I agree in general with your view in that if you see things this way, then definitely a firearm is not for you.
    Stay safe.

  5. Kenwyn McAlister Jan 31, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    A mbush on table mountain? discussed at length in prev article. agree that not using arms will make things more dangerous. safest for easy slab routes.

    • R. Beaver Jan 31, 2015 at 11:51 am #

      yeah i reckon we call that style ascent a “StarWarsPrequel ” a.k.a. No Han’ Solo

      • Dread Pirate Roberts Feb 2, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

        ha haha. keep to the topic okes–gunz and bikez

  6. Justin Lawson Feb 9, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    The boys with the panga’s are back…
    http://www.climbing.co.za/2015/02/table-mountain-muggings-rescue-gear-stolen/

  7. Michael Feb 10, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    Time to start protecting ourselves yet? It would have been easy to stop a few guys with pangas if you had one person armed. A citizen’s arrest could have been executed, and we could carry on enjoying our hills safely.

  8. I. van Rhyn Jul 30, 2019 at 9:32 am #

    The situation on and around Table Mountain needs urgent action now. The time for talking is over. It is ridiculous that a person who could have gone anywhere in the world, but chose Cape Town, was slaughtered on the mountain for a backpack. To think that these barbarians are let lose to do there evil deeds is mind blowing. Where is the Government, where is the Police, why dont we hear a word from them? Its a disgrace to SA and I am ashamed . Three children are left without a father

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