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 Post subject: Safety in the mountains
PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 2:23 pm 
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I'm a forum newbie but I've spent some time in the WC mountains over the years. Each visit, solo or in a group, has been great and the mountains and the people that enjoy them are dear to me. I'd like to air my opinion on the matter of safety in the mountains (I've read the previous posts on safety so I've got a rough idea of what other people's opinions are).

Firstly
, the accidents. These are unfortunate and I sympathise with all involved. I'm not sure what one can do to prevent accidents. To figure that out I think one has to define what causes accidents and attempt to develop countermeasures.

I think physical accidents in the mountains can be broken down into two categories :

1 - those arising directly from the consequences of your own actions e.g. you get stuck on a ledge
2 - those that arise from external factors over which you have no control e.g. a rock falls on your head

To tackle the first kind, I think knowing your own limits, the challenges of the environment and your abilities to meet those challenges is probably a good place to start. Familiarising yourself with the route(s), seeking safety advice from knowledgeable people and fostering a realistic attitude all seem like good practices to me?
With such a high fatality rate it seems there are alot of people lacking knowledge about safety (or as John Roos of WSAR said, failing to take the necessary precautions). I certainly agree with Roos' statement about printing conclusive warnings in the guides.

Investigating the second purely random kind of accident is more difficult and may end up in existential alleys of thought asking deep questions about causality, the functioning of the universe, life and \"fate\" so I leave that as an exercise to the reader.

Secondly, the muggings. Here I struggle to be objective as I was a victim of a mugging in the Echo Valley area of TM during Feb this year. We were a group of 4: 2 guys and 2 girls. When I saw my attackers chasing us I immediately started running and got into a bit of a rock fight with the guys. I threw a large sized rock at one of the attackers, hit him in the abdomen but he didn't go down. The other attacker circled around me and threw me with a rock in the thigh and it drew blood. I was ready for more but when they drew knives I stood down and submitted to their demands.

Since then I've asked myself many times over what I could have done differently. I reported the matter to the police but they were of little help. Not that I was expecting them to find two guys in such a vast space with millions of great hiding spots. To be honest I feel that if the general attitude of violence in the mountains is \"if you don't like it then leave\", I tend to respond to violence with violence.
For example, if I am enjoying myself in the mountains with a group of friends and a group of thugs tries to take my stuff, I'm going to put up a resistance and an armed one at that. To me it has become a matter of personal integrity and defense. TIA after all.
Sometimes I think that the reason there are so many attacks is that people are such easy targets. That may sound harsh but think about it... almost everyone would quickly give away their belongings before getting involved in any kind of struggle, armed or unarmed, hence they are seen as easy pickings by criminals. But what about those of us that don't have insurance?

What if people started putting up a resistance?
At what point WILL people start putting up a resistance?
Does it help putting up a resistance? If I respond with a bigger knife, will they respond with guns? If they respond with guns, will I respond with bullet proof vest and a machine gun? Or should we just respond with pepper spray?

Personally I have adopted the approach of carrying nothing of value but if someone tries to attack me again I will be better prepared to respond with force. I'm not an aggressive person but I'm sharp enough to judge the situation and if I think I have a chance in fending off an attacker or two then I will even if it means taking some risk.
I am certainly not going to hide inside my figurative \"electric fence wall\" and never go out to enjoy the fresh air.

OK this post is getting long but yeah I think there is alot to be said on the matter.

oh yeah as a final note (although not related to climbing): my gf was attacked in loop st a couple months ago. she had a cellphone in her hand and when she saw the attacker go for the phone she screamed at the top of her lungs and scratched his face with her free hand, knowing that there was a group of people on the corner of loop and pepper. the group of people heard her and started running towards her to help and the attacker ran away and nothing was stolen.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:03 am 
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FYI - Break out the bullet proof vest!

Cyclist escapes Table Mountain mugging ...after being threatened by a gun-wielding man.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:36 am 
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I have fortunately not been involved in any incidents, but this ongoing shite is starting to effect the way I plan my time in the mountains, and at the end of the day, I / we are losing because of the subconcious strain it places every time I am out walking / climbing. I react differently to strangers, I have lost that feeling of complete relaxation, and quite frankly, it's starting to piss me off that these f%$#*## can hold us to ransom.

I dont know how I will react, because each situation is different, and a foolhardy response can end your life. But i do know that I am getting progressively more angry.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:09 pm 
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Location: Cape Town
Real Name: Jonathan Joseph
:evil:

Anyone keen to work on some proactive retaliation? .....incognito guerilla style.

A mate of mine got me thinking .... she's currently hunting down 'smash and grabbers' up in Jo'burg, and succeeding! Perhaps we can put our heads together and work on some ideas down here to keep it the fairest Cape.

:twisted:


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:22 pm 
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It's a tempting reaction, I must admit, but I fear you'll be starting a war. I remember this quote from a movie, \"The Siege\": \"In this game, the most committed wins\". You may have short term success, but I think these guys aren't as a rule doing it for fun. They'll be back and be ready to hit harder, it's quite possible that their daily meals depends on it.

Next time they might shoot first and ask question later....

I don't know what the solution is, but I think retaliation, especially cold blooded retalliation will make things worse.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:28 am 
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Well its official now... Table Mountain: Crime Warning for hikers & Tourists issued by CT section of the MCSA

I think if you are wanting to 'react' the best thing would be to join forces with Make Table Mountain Safe initiative.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 12:43 pm 
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As a fellow mountain user I feel for you guys down in the Cape and empathize in your battle against crime. It is wrong that the fear of crime we experience in our daily suburban lives must also be carried into our recreation activities.

Here's a proactive idea...

It might be worth it to have a look at presenting a self defence course at one of the climbing gyms, say City Rock for example.
Mountain users concerned with their safety in and around TMNP could attend and learn some skills to prevent and defend themselves in the event of an attack.
The training courses can also be advertised in local outdoor shops to extend the reach into other mountain activities other than climbing.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:18 pm 
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You could have a black belt in martial arts and it is still very difficult to defend against a knife attack if you are unarmed and the attacker has a knife. A person with a knife has a big advantage over you.

A firearm offers some protection if they don't have firearms and out gun you and you get the drop on them.

It is better just to give them your stuff, you should only fight if you have to fight for your life because they are trying to kill you.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:43 pm 
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It is definitely a concerning problem that crime has moved into the mountains, and that we are now preoccupied with security of ourselves and our belongings when we visit them. My belief is that this is an indication of how crime is moving into the remoter corners of society, and there are obvious explanations for why criminals are resorting to more desperate measures.

When are we going to take responsibility for the underlying causes of the social problems we're facing in this country? This goes beyond getting aggressive or violent towards perpetrators of crimes. Where has reacting with anger ever worked in anyone's favour? We are not all victims of criminal activity, we are in some way directly or indirectly responsible for the unequal economic status of fellow South Africans.

As climbers (who are definitely among the economically privileged in society) we should take responsibility for the disparities that exist between us and our fellow countrymen instead of getting angry and aggressive about the situation. Maintaining morality is easy when you have a roof over your head, a full stomach and abundant time to play and adventure in the mountains.

Anyone got any constructive ideas about how to resolve this (quick fixes excluded)?


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:03 pm 
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Stephen wrote:
It is definitely a concerning problem that crime has moved into the mountains, and that we are now preoccupied with security of ourselves and our belongings when we visit them. My belief is that this is an indication of how crime is moving into the remoter corners of society, and there are obvious explanations for why criminals are resorting to more desperate measures.

When are we going to take responsibility for the underlying causes of the social problems we're facing in this country? This goes beyond getting aggressive or violent towards perpetrators of crimes. Where has reacting with anger ever worked in anyone's favour? We are not all victims of criminal activity, we are in some way directly or indirectly responsible for the unequal economic status of fellow South Africans.

As climbers (who are definitely among the economically privileged in society) we should take responsibility for the disparities that exist between us and our fellow countrymen instead of getting angry and aggressive about the situation. Maintaining morality is easy when you have a roof over your head, a full stomach and abundant time to play and adventure in the mountains.

Anyone got any constructive ideas about how to resolve this (quick fixes excluded)?


Other than aggressivley proactive ideas...... and taking into account our evil apartheid past and eviler capitalist present..... how 'bout Communism? Then we'll all earn the same salary, all have measly roofs over our heads, and no-one will be able to afford the price of climbing gear nor the time to spend in the mountains.

Dude, sorry for dissing your post, but c'mon ... political talk does sweet f-all for the reality of the situation. We've made ourselves easy targets in fear of upsetting the facade of political correctness. When the judicial resources are as flimsy as they are, we must take matters into our own hands. No-one, particularly not the government, is going to do it for us.

Fight back I say!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:05 pm 
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I'm going to agree with Drifter on this one... :shock: (can't think that I've done that before ;)

It's much like hijackings, the recommended thing to do is submit (and claim on insurance) :shock: It sucks but is your gear worth getting injured for?

Arming ourselves isn't going to solve this either (discussed above in previous posts).
To quote Mike (who was mugged last week) \"...when we heard runners behind us. Before we could do anything the one man had a knife at the side of my stomach...\"

I think pressure on TMNP/SANParks is the way forward!? Petition, strike, Napalm, toi-toing!!
Any suggestions??

The guys at 3poles.co.za have an initiative in motion, but how long will volunteers have to patrol the mountain until this stops? Make Table Mountainsafe

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:22 pm 
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MakeTableMountainSafe site wrote:
"to assist the understaffed park with ensuring the safety of visitors "


I don't know the site as I'm from PTA, do you pay entrance fees? Why are they understaffed? Could a entrance fee not be charged / increased to get more staff?

A bit more involved:
How about renting out walkies / panick buttons / airhorns with which people can raise alarm?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:29 pm 
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Hey Justin, thanks for the 3poles volunteering link!

While Drifter does make a valid point, don't you reckon that just succumbing to the buggers and handing over our stuff (not just us in the hills, but everyone affected by 'petty' and 'opportunistic' crime), is making us easier and easier to target?

Back in the day, when humankind was just learning 'civilization' meant, people who got tired of having their herds pilfered stood up for themselves, eventually banding together to form societies of guards, watches, etc, resulting in the modern police service. My point is, had the folks way back when not stood up for themselves individually (and later together), we would not have a single judicial system on the planet. Since, it seems, our 'protectors' are failing miserably, perhaps we need to start reinventing the long wheel of the law.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:36 pm 
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Quote:
Other than aggressivley proactive ideas...... and taking into account our evil apartheid past and eviler capitalist present..... how 'bout Communism? Then we'll all earn the same salary, all have measly roofs over our heads, and no-one will be able to afford the price of climbing gear nor the time to spend in the mountains.

Dude, sorry for dissing your post, but c'mon ... political talk does sweet f-all for the reality of the situation. We've made ourselves easy targets in fear of upsetting the facade of political correctness. When the judicial resources are as flimsy as they are, we must take matters into our own hands. No-one, particularly not the government, is going to do it for us.

Fight back I say!!


My post is not political, it was intended to get constructive ideas - why do we always want government to take action or have to blame someone other than ourselves for what's happening? I agree with you about taking matters into our own hands, however it has to be at a deeper level than simply defending ourselves in the mountains - curing the disease (of asociety which includes everyone) is not a matter of relieving the symptoms (the actions of criminals).


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:58 pm 
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Stephen wrote:
why do we always want government to take action or have to blame someone other than ourselves for what's happening


Because I pay a shitload of taxes.

I have had no hand in the (mis)fortunes of these people, I will not blame anyone but them and the crappy goverment who is failing everyone.

Whether people decide to take action or not is up to them and may be neccessary in the end. That does not change the fact that our government is having us all pick up the soap ( and not the soap bar, the Omo powder), if you know what I mean.

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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 3:13 pm 
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Stephen wrote:

My post is not political, it was intended to get constructive ideas - why do we always want government to take action or have to blame someone other than ourselves for what's happening? I agree with you about taking matters into our own hands, however it has to be at a deeper level than simply defending ourselves in the mountains - curing the disease (of asociety which includes everyone) is not a matter of relieving the symptoms (the actions of criminals).


"Political' in reference to "we are in some way directly or indirectly responsible for the unequal economic status of fellow South Africans"

Fully agree with your point on curing the cause of the 'disease', rather than treating the 'symptom' (what ever nature the disease chooses to take).... that's what holism is all about. I agree we need to look at creating a more holistic society.... but while the we're all looking at a cure for the disease we still need to treat the symptoms somehow.....

I stand fast on my ideas for curing the symptoms, .... as for the disease...

I propose that we as climbers run our own special kind of social upliftment program.... if someone is prepared to sponsor me the gear I'd be keen to get a bunch of kids from previously socially disadvantaged families (ag, y'know stuff Political Correctness.. I mean, township kids!), and start teaching them how to climb and enjoy the mountains. As a currently disadvantaged and somewhat broke bloke, I can't offer money, but can offer my time and enthusiasm.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 3:32 pm 
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SUBMIT??!!! You must be f*cking joking!! We all know that evil flourishes when good men do nothing. To allow these bastards to continue to rape and pillage is immoral and unacceptable.

At the same time taking the law completely into our own hands, satisfying and justifiable as it may be, is not the answer, nor does it need to be the answer. If we can organise ourselves to be proactive within the confines of the law the results I assure you would be astounding!

If we can organise a network of well armed well organised volunteers who know what legal boundaries exist and work with the authorities we can start plucking these buggers off the mountain systematically. I would then be quite willing to use my legal background to follow through with any prosecutions. If nothing else it would be a bloody good deterent. Let me assure you these guys are scared of prison.... a good ass-raping in Polsmoor serves as a strong reminder not to go back there!

We could approach big business for sponsorship and perhaps even incentive rewards for successful busts. A good start might be getting a really good network of spotters with binoculars etc set up in key locations around the mountain and then simply having our \"runners\" tag and follow any suspiscious looking characters.

I'm just trying to come up with ideas here but I don't see any other effective measure against these guys other than implementing an imposing presence on the mountain and systematically apprehending these guys and sending them off to prison with a bloody good thrashing!


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 5:01 pm 
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robsherpa wrote:

We could approach big business for sponsorship and perhaps even incentive rewards for successful busts. A good start might be getting a really good network of spotters with binoculars etc set up in key locations around the mountain and then simply having our "runners" tag and follow any suspiscious looking characters.

I'm just trying to come up with ideas here but I don't see any other effective measure against these guys other than implementing an imposing presence on the mountain and systematically apprehending these guys and sending them off to prison with a bloody good thrashing!


Great idea..... I'll be a runner / tracker / tagger / reccy ... as long as I'm issued some nice cammo fatigues and a bos-hoed! .... and, an R4 would be a pleasant bonus (will settle for a cork pop-gun though)!

Seriously though...

Have just volunteered on the 3pole thingee that Justin posted.... let's see what we can do.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 12:15 pm 
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So Stephen, when you say we should take responsability(because we are in some way responsible), do you mean that I should find a way to employ 20 000 000+ people who are unemployed in SA. And all the others who would migrate from the rest of Africa if this were possible. Are we climbers responsible for all the Nigerian, Zim, & other alien criminals in SA? Come off it.

How am I responsible & how do I take responsibility? How can a handfull of climbers make a diffrence to Southern Africa? Time to get real.

Defend your self if you get the opertunity. Make a diffrence when you get the opertunity. Be ready for the opertunity & make the most of it, when it does come.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:49 pm 
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People I have been a victim of crime at crags on numerous occasions. nearly been murdered in actual fact anyways i have come to conclusion, that whenever you venture to crags in close proximity of towns and citys, I recommend the easiest form of defense is pepper spray! Its easy to carry in hand on the walk in/out and still gives time to react(Retaliate or Run). Just my opinion and its worked before, so im speaking from experience.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:20 pm 
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Hi all... just catching up on the discussion now, and see that some have already mentioned the initiative we have got running... and some have joined. Thanks to those...

Without going into too much detail, we are a volunteer organisation which is mandated by Table Mountain National Park to assist with the safety & security element in a pro-active, non-confrontational manner. Let me break those down:

Pro-active:
We provide an information service to mountain users to help educate them on better practice on the mountain, and direct users to better/safer areas. Also, we provide patrols [observation, eye & ears, visibility] around the mountain with our volunteer base. On top of that, we are actively engaging people like CIty of Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism, the media and private enterprise to assist with this problem.

Non-confrontational:
While I would love to sit on a nice vantage point with a big boy rifle and play target practice, we CANNOT TOLERATE VIGILANTES!!! We, the volunteer base, are there to assist parks with information and direction... not to go attack every oke who looks a little suspect.

I beg of you to go to www.3poles.co.za/maketablemountainsafe and register as a volunteer for patrols. It's a few hours over the weekend/public holiday which could help save a life at the end of the day! If you have a regular group that goes up [during the week or weekend], please add that in the notes field so we can arrange to make your general outing on the mountain even more meaningful by turning it into a patrol of sorts...

BE SAFE OUT THERE... AND KEEP YOUR EYES & EARS OPEN


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 12:34 pm 
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This is a good debate! Ja, Mr Marshall I agree with you (if agreement is what you want) No you can't be responsible for so many individuals, nor the behaviour of other human beings (there are a few remarkable people who have been able to though - think of Ghandi, Mandela, and other humanitarians of the world - I'm sure you too are capable of being as great, maybe you already are?). Yes sieze opportunity, defend yourself if necessary, but one thing I would add is being willing to CREATE the opportunity to help others, not just waiting for it to come along.

JonoJ, I admire your spirit and holistic views - I think the more folks that enjoy the splendour and power of the mountains in the way that we've been so fortunate to do, will also benefit from experiencing nature.

The MCSA runs a number of outreach programs and I know of an interfaith group that would like to take previously disadvantaged folks into the mountains. There was also a Hoerikwaggo Trail guide (documentary about him on TV) who - coming from a township himself - saw the wonder of transforming peoples lives through experiencing nature. Personally I would love to see a greater diversity of people climbing or adventuring, and I like the fact that we have the potential to create that here. If more diverse people use the mountains in a respectful manner then there will no longer be space for the thuggish elements that have started to creap in. After all the mountains do belong to all of us, and we are all custodians of them.

And well done to 3Poles, you guys are really approaching this problem in a constructive manner.

Ciao


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 6:34 pm 
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Sure, \"there are a few remarkable people who have been able to though - think of Ghandi, Mandela\". Unfortunatly I'm unremarkable, white South African male. All of which is currently unfashainable, no amount of publicity or promotion is going to change that. Its also a life time of dedication...& all I actuly want to do is go climbing! So its settled that I won't be making huge diffrence or taking responsability for millions of people.

Debate is what I want.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 9:14 am 
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I gotta back the pepper spray theory too. I recomend Liquid Bullet with a 6-9 metre direct jet spray. I've used it and the results are astonishing and most satisfying. If you hit the guy in the face it will drop him to the floor blinded and paralyzed with pain! Also the great thing about pepper spray is that the risk of you getting a law suit against you for using it is seriously minimized so... when in doubt just mace liberally.

As far as action goes perhaps the first step would be to approach the authorities (numerous as they claim to be) through the MCSA and see what structures they have put in place and how we can assist them in better doing their jobs. This could take the form of volunteering extra man power, strategy implementation, equipment (mace, binoculars, handcuffs, organising firearms etc). Pressurising the relevant authorities to pull their finger out has gotta help. Perhaps the MCSA has already made significant contact? Anyone care to comment?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 9:31 am 
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Further to \"robsherpa\"...

We, the Table Mountain Safety Action Group, have already approached authorities... it took a bit of persuasion [threatening with even more media, public petitions, etc] in january this year.

We have a volunteer programme already setup and mandated by Parks, the City of Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism and supported by MCSA.

We MAY NOT use firearms, but the rest are all possible! It's a case of getting the numbers to sustain the project... and getting people to commit to their time. We have seen over 400 people offer to patrol, man observation posts, etc... and few actually bother arriving on the day!!! Not very nice when you have six people in a patrol together, and one arrives....

If you are interested, go register at www.3poles.co.za/maketablemountainsafe

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 Post subject: Lions Head Mugging
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 11:07 am 
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8 hikers mugged on Lions Head this weekend

This is frightening and out of hand! Especially if people are getting mugged near the paragliding launch pad!!

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 Post subject: frightening indeed
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 11:14 am 
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Cape Times just called me regarding the weekends muggings...

does anyone have more info?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 12:16 pm 
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Howzit
Make Table mountain save... Move to Joburg. Buy Table mountain, build big ass fence and keep the fuckers out. Wont look pretty and is completely impractical. Or about 5000 - 10000 of us patrol every weekend and about 5 of us can climb in peace we do this on a rotation. So every 5 years or so you will get your weekend of climbing.. Almost like playing golf in Japan, they dont have any outdoor space but they do have very little crime. So you have golf clubs where membership is about R5000000(the cheep one's). Space is the ultimate luxury. Best thing that will every happen to Cape Town is global warming. If the sea level goes up by 6 meters it will be an island and hopefully all the muggers will swim for the main land. Fact of the matter is in this country any outdoor area that is close to a developed town is more or less a write off. So the best thing I reckon you Capetonians can do is start negotiating with farmers/private property owners where there is good climbing and hiking on there land. Hopefully as far as possible from any town/township and where access is possible to control. And keep it super exclusive, crowds draw crime. Safety through obscurity. Bit like the Windows operating system. Untill security is build into the fundamentals they only way to stay save is to be invisible/obscure. For the main part if seems to work up here.
My rant for the day completely unconstructive.

Cheers
Ian
PS: Had a great day in Mlabatini yesterday.......


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 12:40 pm 
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You obviously missed this news item: 'Now they're mugging golfers' :wink:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 1:59 pm 
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Location: Joburg
Justin
I actually meant the golf courses in Japan. But serves me right for being a smart ass on a Monday morning. The point about proximity to the fuckers still holds though. People with / without valuable items within close proximity of very poor people with access to guns/weapons in secluded areas are going to be at risk. In a way Table Moutain went from the climbers greatest friend to worst enemy. You have all this rock sitting there and everybody is too scared to go and climb, must be a bit frustrating. Bit like the Drankensberg, Boven etc. You end up climbing at places like the Magaliesberg, Swinburne, Blouberg, Eagle Mountain(aka Mnt Everest) until one of these punks figure out there are easy pickings to be had and the place is doomed. I reckon when people want to develop climbing areas(of any sort sport, bouldering, trad) the first question must be whether the proposed area is close to any town/township. If it is then development should not be allowed, because sooner or later it will attract muggers/thieves etc and all the time/money effort will be for naught.

Cheers
Ian


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