In response to the unfortunate incident at the climbing area called Chosspile just below the dam wall of the Hartbeespoort dam, North West Province, I had a meeting with the Resort Manager and his assistant of Mount Amanzi, who are leasing the land from Rissik Estates who own the land which the climbing is on. I additionally had an extensive telephonic conversation with is one of the Directors of Bergaret Farms or Rissik Estates and manages the Uitkyk Hiking Trail on the slopes east of the Chosspile. I also chatted to the victims and other people they confided in.
The detail of the situation occurred is as follows:
Two young women went climbing on their own on the Monday morning of 28th December and went directly in the gate using the combination lock which they knew from previous visits. They did not report to Mount Amanzi nor did the Mount Amanzi reception or their security know they were there. At approximately 11:00 am they were apprehended by 3 young males who came out of the bushes by the car park. The women were robbed and one of them was physically attacked, but not seriously hurt. They took their cell phones, some climbing gear, and some other valuables. The assailants made off on foot in a northerly direction back along the access road, turn right just before the gate over the canal and out onto the road.
The background to this incident is related to many factors making this area a crime hot spot. These include loss of income to the local inhabitants due to a slump in tourism, and general reduction to in the number of visitors to the area. This is related partly to the crime itself making the area less appealing, the new highway to the west on which one can conveniently bypass the area and COVID-19 related restrictions.
According to the owners of Rissik Estates there have been a number of crime incidents lately, the large group that was mugged on the Uitkyk Hiking Trail next door, a car that was hijacked, some smash-and-grab incidents and muggings by the tunnel, and a motorcyclist who had stopped on the bridge to look at the view and was attacked and badly hurt, his cards taken, and money taken from the ATM as was the pattern many years ago in the same area. The Uitkyk Hiking Trail was closed in October 2020.
The proposed plan to improve security where the guard stays by the cars and the climbers enter and exit by the gate with a combination lock was operational for a short while. This arrangement, if in place, would have a guard with a radio at the cars, and would have prevented the incident, but unfortunately the climbing community was not responsible enough to work this system to their own safety and benefit and entered using the combination without paying or using the security of Mount Amanzi. Thus, we had to return to the original system with the guard at the gate.
The conclusion of the discussion with Rissik Estates and Mount Amanzi, was that they felt they did not want to put the climbing public at this risk, and that we were lucky that this incident was not a lot worse. Their decision is to close the area to all climbing for a period of 4 months and reassess after that. The MCSA will look at arranging a number of formal events or meets there, where there will be sufficient people attending and special security arranged to make these events safe. All members and non-members are welcome to these meets as is the case with all MCSA meets. In this time Mount Amanzi will spend money to repair fencing and secure the area better and plan a better strategy to combat the crime.