The General Committee of the Mountain Club of South Africa (Cape Town Section) regrets to advise members of the increasing possible threats to their personal safety while hiking and climbing in and around the Table Mountain National Park, and elsewhere.
The Club urges members to exercise caution when planning hiking routes. There are currently very few areas that can be considered completely safe, and you are advised to be aware of areas that have seen a recent escalation in crime.
The recent series of assaults on trail runners & hikers on the Saddle at the top of Newlands Ravine, as well as on walkers, hikers, runners and cyclists in Newlands forest, represent a significant shift in the level of violence involved, unfortunately similar to that of the tragic attacks in the Kalk Bay and Karbonkelberg areas earlier this year.
The MCSA (Cape Town Section) is integrally involved with the Table Mountain Security Action Group (TMSAG), an initiative involving over forty mountain user groups, neighbourhood watches and security associations, who are pursuing positive actions behind the scenes to combat these hazards in very difficult circumstances.
The TMSAG is actively lobbying ALL the authorities to come up with a meaningful plan to protect mountain users – locals, visitors and tourists alike – and to apprehend those who would threaten us in what should be a safe and peaceful environment.
Newlands Forest in its entirety, Newlands Ravine, the Saddle behind Devil’s Peak, the slopes of Devil’s Peak, the Blockhouses and nearby mountain biking trails. All these areas have seen several assaults recently, and while some of the perpetrators have, of late, been apprehended, others remain at large. There are also reports of people living there, hence the increased risks.
Other areas considered to pose a risk to safety
Signal Hill and Lion’s Head, Noordhoek & Kommetjie Beach, Sandy Bay & Karbonkelberg, Vlakkenberg, Blackburn Ravine, Elephant’s Eye, Kleinplaas Dam area, Black Hill and Red Hill, Slangkop, Peer’s Cave and Sunrise Beach.
Currently these include Silvermine East and the Kalk Bay mountains, where there have been fewer reports of incidents of late, while Cape Point, Silvermine West, the Back Table, Orange Kloof and the Apostles remain relatively crime-free at the present time.
A significant increase in the number of vehicle break-ins is occurring at the end of Tafelberg Road, at the Rhodes Memorial parking areas and on Signal Hill Road.
Mountain users should remember that crime shifts in response to increased security in an area pushing the perpetrators to somewhere else. It is unlikely that the Table Mountain National Park will ever be totally crime free, given Cape Town’s population and demographics.
The best thing you can do is to be aware, keep hiking and look after your own safety.
Hike in a group. While this does not preclude being attacked, it may serve as a deterrent.
Be aware of potential threats. The suddenness of an attack leads to panic, which may exacerbate the situation. An alert, obviously aware group, poses a harder target.
If attacked, it is advisable NOT to resist. Handing over your “valuables” decreases the chances of being harmed (although unfortunately, this is not always the case).
In the event that you can see that an attack is imminent, hide your cellphone in the vegetation or rocks, so that you are able to summon help much faster afterwards.
Keep the emergency contact numbers on your phones. Check that all members of the party have these numbers. Also keep those numbers somewhere on your person.
Keep a look out on social media for the various ‘Safe Hikes’ and ‘Take Back Our Mountain’ initiatives, in which the MCSA is an active participant, and lend your support. These are proving to be highly successful.
Emergency numbers (for crime or accident situations)
021 937 0300
Metro Emergency Medical Services, who will activate Mountain Rescue, and have the ability to escalate your call to all relevant agencies.
021 480 7700
Public Emergency Communication Centre, which is central control for reporting crime, on the mountain or anywhere else.
These control centres can easily communicate with each other and all emergency services, and are currently your best options.
It is utterly unacceptable that we are forced to endure the threat of violence while enjoying our mountains and beaches. The MCSA is striving, along with many other mountain user groups, to do whatever we can to combat crime, keep up pressure on the authorities, and to work towards evolving solutions to improve safety.
The MCSA (Cape Town Section)
11 October 2018