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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:51 am 
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Elandskrans Resort: Saturday 5 November

11 Climbers were held up by two men in there early 20s at 9pm on Saturday night while sitting around the braai in front of one of the chalets. One of the men was armed with a pistol. Money, cellphones, Rucsacks, a gps, pda and a laptop were stolen. Fortunately nobody was harmed.

It appears that security at Elandskrans has been getting steadily worse with things being stolen from cars and tents (See other posts in this forum). Unfortunately after having visited there over 30 times in the past 10 years we can no longer recommend staying there.

There has been a steady stream of armed muggings at the crags over the past couple of years but this marks a new level of brazenness.

If you are going to climb in Boven it is strongely recommended that you stay in town at Roc 'n Rope or one of the other b&bs. In particular if you are women climbing by yourselves, or even as a couple, find a group of other climbers to join for your own safety. We had the strong feeling both from our assailants and from our conversation with the police that there is also an increasing sexual aggressiveness present in the recent attacks. The police were very helpful but see, to be facing an uphill battle in a township of displaced and transitory people where there is 75% unemployment.

Don't let this put you off climbing at Boven but rather direct your support to Gustav of Roc 'n' Rope and other members of the community who put so much into climbing at the Resturant and making it the great place its is.


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 Post subject: sad
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:39 pm 
this is VERY disturbing. what's the point in climbing if you have to look over your shoulder the whole time. My partner refuses to go to boven for fear of being raped. The crime seems to have become worse and the fact that the town refuses to act means they will end up suffering in the long run. A few armed guards, from 8am to 8pm patrolling sport valley, could make all the difference. It seems now like this is unafordable, but if more people felt safer about the place things would balance out. I wont even drive out that way. It's like the town wants climbers to bring in their money and then this disegard for climbers by Elandskrans? cumon, R35 bucks to go inside for the day? Then you are NOT safe at all. Forget it!

Safe alternatives - wellington dome; harrismith;swinburne;blouberg and magalies. plenty of climbing still. Just forget about boven, I have.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 7:50 pm 
Private sector tourism is alarmed at the incident at Waterval Boven over the weekend where 11 climbers were robbed at gun point. As the head of the Eastern Highveld Priority Committee (a private sector/government initiative to assist the SAPS in prioritising tourism security) we will urgently take action to ensure that the situation in Waterval Boven be given the necessary attention to try and bring an end to incidents of this nature. The head of tourism security in the province, Lindiwe Mtombeni, will be visiting the Waterval Boven area during this week to investigate how to bring control back into the area.
The EHPC's next meeting will be held on 8 December in the Waterval Boven area and this will be very high on our agenda for that day.
The Priority committees were formed approximately two years ago in an effort to get a working relationship between the security forces, provincial government and private sector tourism. We as tourism recognise the enormous effort put in by the SAPS in getting control of crime but obviously a lot of work still needs to be done in the Waterval Boven area to bring the situation under control.
The EHPC is not directly responsible for Waterval Boven, but a problem anywhere in the province is a problem which tourism needs to attend to and urgent correspondence will be sent to the MEC for Tourism in relation to the problems being experienced in Waterval Boven.
We sympathise with the 11 climbers who experienced this bad incident and would like to assure them that we will do everything in our power to bring their stolen goods back to them and discussions will be held in securing that resort as well as working closely with the SAPS at Waterval Boven in bringing the number of incidents down. It has been proven that a good working relationship within the priority committees has done wonders in other areas and we believe that this can also happen at Waterval Boven.
As private sector representatives who are volunteers, we are doing whatever we can in adding value to the tourism industry in Mpumalanga.



JonoH wrote:
Elandskrans Resort: Saturday 5 November

11 Climbers were held up by two men in there early 20s at 9pm on Saturday night while sitting around the braai in front of one of the chalets. One of the men was armed with a pistol. Money, cellphones, Rucsacks, a gps, pda and a laptop were stolen. Fortunately nobody was harmed.

It appears that security at Elandskrans has been getting steadily worse with things being stolen from cars and tents (See other posts in this forum). Unfortunately after having visited there over 30 times in the past 10 years we can no longer recommend staying there.

There has been a steady stream of armed muggings at the crags over the past couple of years but this marks a new level of brazenness.

If you are going to climb in Boven it is strongely recommended that you stay in town at Roc 'n Rope or one of the other b&bs. In particular if you are women climbing by yourselves, or even as a couple, find a group of other climbers to join for your own safety. We had the strong feeling both from our assailants and from our conversation with the police that there is also an increasing sexual aggressiveness present in the recent attacks. The police were very helpful but see, to be facing an uphill battle in a township of displaced and transitory people where there is 75% unemployment.

Don't let this put you off climbing at Boven but rather direct your support to Gustav of Roc 'n' Rope and other members of the community who put so much into climbing at the Resturant and making it the great place its is.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:35 am 
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Sorry to say but how is this going to be resolved???????
If there are 75% of the town unemployed and desperate there is always going to be crime. If you raise the level of security, the type of crime will also become more violent! The only way I can see would be to put a full height electric fence around the entire valley patrolled by security. Not very feasable!
The other way would be to empower the local people and create more jobs. The ironic (and sad) thing is that they are chasing the climbers and tourists away that could create jobs for them. Boven is a rad climbing venue with world class sport (and trad) climbing. Many overseas tourists would fly over to go and climb and spend dollars and euros in their struggling town.
I would have to (unfortunately) agree and forget Boven until this gets resolved. :(


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 Post subject: Armed robbery
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:32 am 
\"In particular if you are women climbing by yourselves, or even as a couple, find a group of other climbers to join for your own safety. We had the strong feeling both from our assailants and from our conversation with the police that there is also an increasing sexual aggressiveness present in the recent attacks\"

As a woman climber, i was wondering why you thought this? Its a huge concern for me.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Armed Robbery
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:18 pm 
Mr Stark all i hear from you and your types is bla bla bla bla, get a life dude and make things happen.


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 Post subject: what
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2005 5:44 pm 
sorry atholstark,but this has been going on for years.I've heard all the stories about \"...now they've caught the main guy...it's safe again\". The first crime I experienced was when my car got broken into at the campsite in 1994!! Ten years ago. It's been a constant pain in the ass since back then. It's the typical scenario. A township near the crags and you get thefts. Look at Baviaanspoort. I'm thinking the only solution would be fencing the main parts off, but this is near impossible. You cant suddenly create lots of jobs and wealth in a town who's existence stems from a temporary period many years ago. It is such a complex issue to try and solve with another meeting. As climbers we need solutions that will work for next weekend. If this were happening in America they'd place troops patrolling the area and severly punish the offenders. but, alas it's not. so I agree with oubaas, blah blah blah is all I read from your post. Also, if you have so much power over tourism issue, then why slap a R41.00 tollgate 3 k's from town? I fear that it's another fart in a thunderstorm.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2005 7:55 pm 
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I would like to give my sincere thanks to Athol. He tracked us down on the Monday morning after the incident to find out what happened and promised to keep the pressure up on the police. True to his word he phoned us again on Wednesday to keep up updated on the progress. I get the impression that Athol and the Eastern Highveld committee are pulling out all the stops to assist the police and keep up the pressure on them when it comes to dealing wiht tourist related incidents.

By contrast I should point out that we didn't even get so much as a courtesy phone call from the owner of Elandskrans who I understand is also the head of the Boven tourist association !! When we telephoned the Elandskrans offices we were met with a denial from them that there was any problem at all. Way to go - this would really envourage us to stay at Elandskrans again !

Our group was unanimous that the answer does not lie in boycotting Boven. Much like happened with the Dusi Canoe marathon, climbers need to put something back into the community. I dont know if there are any existing community projects we could link into, but we envisaged a trust fund whereby every accomodation owner in Boven charges a community levy, say R5 per night. Members of the community would form part of a committe of trustees which would decide how to invest the money in the community, whether it would be upgrading of the school or building proper market facilites at the tunnel for the twnsfolk to make a living. Perhaps after an event like the rock rally climbers could pitch with projects to help upgrade the infrastructure of the community.

These types of projects take a lot of hard work and a long time to get the buy in of the community but the longer term aim must be that in ten years we have a climbing community and a residents community that respect the value that each brings to Boven.

... Just a couple of quick formed thoughts to dwell on


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2005 1:57 pm 
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I agree with JonoH !!!!! Community community community !!!!! That's the only way. The informal settlement is not going to ever 'dissappear' and Boven remains an awesome place!

I bought a weekend house in Boven in March. Fell in love with the place after my bro took me climbing there, so this topic is very close to home.

I am also desperate for solutions because I believe in Boven

Those who aren't aware of the new development on \"Die Eiland\", visit www.bovenherald.co.za. It's a 'village' development which shall include a small hotel, conference facilities, shops etc. focused mostly on tourism (mostly flyfishing as I gather) I'm not sure if the new development is a good or bad thing, but at least it will create job oppertunities.

I've been trying to communicate with Daan Visagie from the developers in Pretoria to get invloved with the project and also represent the climbing community to some extent.

Anyway, according to the Boven Herald the project kicks off in March.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 9:58 am 
Just a thought to other climbers…

Should we be using the services of people and businesses that don’t give us service? Think of (A) ElandsKraans and the owner who does not know of any security concerns, and good people like (B) Gustav at Rock n Rope who provides a darn good service at a very reasonable fee and … is actively involved in the local and climbing community…

Just a thought if you are planning your December climbing trips ….

Ciao

Chalk


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 Post subject: Boven
PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 3:29 pm 
Absolutely agree Chalk! Just spent the weekend in a misty, lovely Boven at the new Tranquilitas chalets and all was well. Its all pretty bad luck for Gustav and Alex and they run a good show in a good place.

Ok, the place was crawling with cops for a change, so didnt feel to threatened, but given that at any time in Boven there are always a few climbers about, isnt there a smart system that could be put in place for those of us who feel a bit nervous? Im planning on going up with a few other girls at New Years, and I know I will be thinking about how to not be mugged OR raped for that matter.

I'm all for a solution to this rather than simply letting the thug with a gun ruin another South African story. Will be giving this some more thought.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 5:27 pm 
ye, as soon as our ladies feel unsafe you know it's quits. I remember secret garden & the hype, great spot too. Then a couple were mugged and his girlfriend was raped. From then on I just forgot about going there as an option. Nothing is worth the trauma. I just think that 'boven needs to come up with a short term viable solution that works for now. Indeed, much is always in the pipeline, but it needs to be managed right now before we start to have incidents. Basically, the way I see it, 'boven is at a critical crossroad.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 10:18 pm 
Climbed at Boven last weekend and stayed at Tranquilitas Mountain Chalets where we climbed. Due to all the bad press we were about to cancel the weekend, but fortunatly we did not cancel and had an absolutely fantastic weekend. Not once did we feel we were in danger. I would say to avoid the crags close to Boven itself and those below Elands Krans. Also always check with locals like Alex and Gustav to find out what the latest is. I am pretty sure they will give you an honest answer. Sarah


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 9:29 am 
Sarah, your sense of security is false I'm afraid to say. There have been numerous muggings and attacks at these crags too. I have heard of them happening at Hallucigenic, Superbowl and even at the MCSA car park and the plateau where we walk in. You are not safe. Not at the tunnel, or the waterfall either. Sport valley is the worst by far. Basically, if you go to the coven enough times, you'll get mugged, same for the Island.

Dont be naive and let the fact that those crags are far from the township mean that you are safe. A buddy of mine was even mugged at the far side past the foundry.

Here's the bottom line, you go at your own risk. You are not safe, and you might get mugged, so best prepare your mind for this so it doesnt affect your life too much when it does happen. This is a small poor town that the goverment has just forgotten about, built because of a railway tunnel, that now has a sizable local population with very few oportunities and education is scarce. This crime issue will not be resolved, no matter how many resorts they build. You can just see this by looking at the amount of crime that still exists, and the fact that it's got worse over the years.

When I go to boven I make sure I have NOTHING of value on me [even a camera is reason enough to get mugged]
If I do have a camera on me, I'll normally leave it halfway up the first route I climb up, stashed in a crack [this saved it already!]
If my gut gets that knot, I leave immediately.
If we suspect anything suspicious, we run for it.
Take Alex and Gustav's dog along as a deterant.
Ask for Gustav to organise a local guide to tag along. These guys live in the township and they'd recognise the perpetrators.
Walk tall. Dont let any persons on the street get familiar with you. If they ask for a smoke, or to be your buddy, ignore them. Dont show signs of weakness.
If you are unlucky enought to be at the barrel of a 9mm, try to remember not to show fear. This gives the offender power over the situation. Rather, co-operate, but reluctantly, reminding the attacker that they are ruining the place, how much you detest them and the situation.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:04 pm 
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Having experienced Boven in its infancy, it is not nice to see it become a victim to crime. It is too good a climbing area. Is it not possible to focus on a couple of prime crags and at least on weekends throw resources at the problem to make these crags safe climbing venues. As climbers we seem to find the revenue to fund routes (at least some of us). Could a fund not be established to hire security on weekends for these select crags.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:21 pm 
Armed guards were seen as a solution for the wave cave and as far as I know they are still available for hire from a local security company. Call me a purist but I don't like the idea of climbing while someone guards me with a pumpaction shotgun. Even though the cave is awesome I will not climb there with armed guards. THe same would go for Boven. If the only option of climbing there involved armed guards it would dissapear off my venue radar... as it already nearly has. Community involvement is all good and well, but the question needs to be asked just what kind of a difference a community trust fund can make.... I mean come on... R5 per climber is nothing.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:47 pm 
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Posts: 67
What about harnessing the power of communication? I have seen other communities manage security issues by setting up networks. There was an interesting idea out a while ago whereby people who witnessed hijackings sent out a viral sms...Have no idea what success rate it had tho.

But maybe some sort of communication system could be set up? Problem is lack of phone signal. Have no idea how well radios would work or some sort of panic button system (frankly don't know enough about either to know their limitations - blue-skying here). Costs are an issue, but money is not that difficult a resource to lay hands on if you have some imagination. Flare guns? Hmm, climber injured by flaring crack could take on a new dimension.

Infiltrating the locals in the camp for timely info? Hell their must be someone out their with a good idea.. me, Im off on a mental tangent but we didnt become the dominant species by staring at our navels while the beasties licked their chops. K, enough of a verbal wander for one day, but if anyone wants to talk about this Y not do it for real...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:52 pm 
Arg - apologies, posted that in triplicate! The thing keeps telling me it cant post and then does it NE way...one day I will get the hang of this whole IT thing. :oops:


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 Post subject: EC forum
PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2005 4:23 pm 
For anyone who was following this one, there is a similar and heated debate going down on the Eastern Cape forum...Guest, is this perhaps you in a more peaceful forum?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2005 5:42 pm 
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Re guests concerns about the aesthetics of climbing in the presence of an armed guard. To my mind going climbing concerned about your personal safety and those with you kinda interferes with the pleasure of climbing anyway. It is fine to talk about how this is a reality of SA and that one should not let crime interfere with one’s climbing. However, I have some difficulty justifying climbing in an area with my wife and daughter where it is a known hot spot for crime.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:34 pm 
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Good news.

Thanks to the sterling work of the Boven police three young guys from the Boven township are in custody. A number of the stolen items were recovered from where they had been trying to pawn them at the White River taxi rank.

Thanks particularly to Captain Van Greunen and Inspector Smit for their work. Apparently these thieves are connected with a whole spate of robberies in towns like Belfast and Machadorp and they should go to jail for a good while.

We expect the trial to happen sometime this year.

Will keep ye all posted on how long they get.


Last edited by JonoH on Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 11:24 am 
To Those who refuse to climb at an area were one needs a guard.
Are you going to stop climbing???

Nobody chooses this, but often we have no other options.

If You start taking crags off you list of places to go. lets look at an example.

Boven gone.
and next, Chosspile, and all the other crags in Gautang.
What is left? Magaliesberg. And if someone gets mugged there? Blouberg? Welingtons dome.

By now, if you live in Gautang, you have to travel to Harrysmith to do any climbing.

But still you refuse to go climbing where there is someone to keep an eye out for you.

Sorry, I don't have the answer. But my climbing is more important to me than my pride. I will do what I have to do to keep climbing.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 4:37 pm 
Me and some buddies were in Boven over New Years and had the same discussion as this forum over dinner the one night. I have heard that the crags have been a lot safer since the lock up of the three nasties mentioned earlier, but of course, the root causes of the nasty element remain in the town, so it may re-surface again.

The town of Boven is trying to get itself together by all accounts, though with any system involving a bunch of people with different interests, it is no doubt slow and laborious. I still maintain that there must be ways for climbers to safeguard themselves through cleverness as opposed to guns and bravado. Save the brawn for the cranking.

If anyone in Josi wanted to do a bit of a meet about some of this stuff, with a view to some focused and constructive thinking to design solutions for ourselves when venturing out, I'd be happy to organise the space, and possibly even the beer n pizza (given I doubt there would be an enormous response initially). If anyone would be keen, post it here, and I'll drop my email adi... :?:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 10:19 am 
Just spent 10 days in Boven over new year. Lots of people people climbed in the various crags with zero incidents. No cops either and it felt safer than some of the crags that I've been to in Southern Europe. It is not to say that the conditions are not ripe for another Dalton to emerge ( or for the original one to escape prison again) but Boven got a lot of negative publicity when Dalton and his gang were running riot so I think it's also important to emphasise when things are quiet. As always, it's best to be cautious, but Boven is certainly a much safer place than it was a couple of months ago.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:21 am 
It's great to hear that the culprits have been caught. Unfortunately as everyone agrees we are treating the symptoms not the cause. Is it our responsibility to provide jobs, it's cruel to say, but no. I do however like the idea of setting up some sort of community upliftment fund and it would be great if someone like Gustav would be prepared to get involved.

The most important thing after setting up a fund would be to educate the community and get them to support our initiatives. I believe that if the local community understands that the climbing community is prepared to contribute to their upliftment, they would be more willing to take a stand against the criminals who i am sure are known in the settlement.

in order for this to work the right people should be involved. i would love to help, but i am in america at the moment and this can not be put off. the MCSA, local government, SAPS, Church leaders and community leaders would be a good place to start. i'm sure the community leaders could easily identify small projects that climbers(if properly organised) would be prepared to contribute towards. i'm sure some of the University clubs would also be prepared to help out.

my two cents worth... use it, don't use it.


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