Mountain users raise concerns over safety

Lobby group continues to raise concerns over safety issues on Table Mountain

Lobby group Friends of Table Mountain (FOTB) has raised concerns over ongoing safety issues on Table Mountain.

They said there had been a spate of attacks, including a vicious mugging which put one victim in ICU last week and that crime had been an ongoing issue in the park since the mid-2000s.

The group last year raised concerns over what they call the neglect of Table Mountain National Park and wrote to the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy at the end of August calling for her to intervene. (“Group laments mountain ‘neglect’,” Atlantic Sun, October 22 2020)

SANParks said they remained committed to dealing with the issues raised within these structures and invited members back to the table to discuss the issues.

Chairman of the group, Andy Davies, said the latest attacks, which aside from the severe Tafelberg Road incident in which two joggers were attacked by knife-wielding assailants, included three attacks at Kleinplaas, a mugging on Signal Hill, and an armed robbery in Lower Tokai in December last year, all pointed to the fact that SANParks continued to fail to address safety and security concerns in the park.

Asked about the recent incident in which two joggers were mugged and beaten on Tafelberg Road earlier this month, Cape Town Central Police spokesperson Captain Ezra October confirmed the incident but said the victims had not opened cases.

It was reported that, during the attack, one victim’s teeth were knocked out by the attackers who were using a metal bar and another went to ICU with severe stab wounds, inflicted after he tried running away.

Mr Davies said many excellent solutions had been put forward over the years to assist SANParks including an initiative to tackle hot spots, and involving a private security provider and a corporate funder which ad been presented to SANParks in 2019.

“It was the sort of initiative that SANParks should have embraced but after initial positivity, they just stalled. Attempts to take the project further were stonewalled, and the stakeholders have told us that they don’t believe SANParks ever had any intent of signing an agreement,” he said.

He also commented on what he called social media attention given by SANParks in December to its deployment of over 40 safety monitors from the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to ensure visitor safety, and the visible but short-lived presence of a helicopter.

“SANParks need to focus on sustainable practical solutions and not public relations exercises,” he said.

This week – from Tuesday to Thursday, SANParks hosted a three-day information-sharing field trip with the media.

The aim, they said was to give reporters an opportunity to learn about the intricacies of managing a national park such as TMNP and to share information on the numerous activities happening in the park that help fulfil SANParks’ mandate of managing a sustainable ecosystem that re-connects and inspires society.

The sharing sessions include Table Mountain National Park safety and security plans and implementation, maintenance of the trails and the challenges they’re facing.

On the first day, SANParks general manager, Nicholus Funda said among the many challenges TMNP was facing, included people who had erected shacks and were living on TMNP land and crime. He said they were working with SAPS and Law Enforcement to conduct joint operations on the mountain.

“We’re facing many challenges at TMNP and to deal with them we will need clear communication, transparency and engagement with the stakeholders to combat the problems,” he said.