Trails are safer – SANparks

With the disturbing spate of attacks taking place on mountains around the Cape Peninsula, South African National Parks (SANParks) is beefing up security to ensure safety on hiking trails.

SANParks held a media briefing last Friday at the Kloofnek Boardroom in Signal Hill Road, with discussions focused on how to deal with the safety and security challenges the parks face.

There have been eight confirmed mountain attacks between January 1 and February 21 this year.

After several meetings with members of the security cluster, as well as internal workshops, the current operational plan for safety and security was reviewed and upgraded to deal with the ongoing safety challenges.

A total of 128 rangers have been deployed; they are required to split shifts and be on standby to cover 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and SANParks have brought in their K9 unit who patrol the parks.

Gavin Bell, Table Mountain National Parks’ acting park manager, explained how positive changes had already taken place.

“We are very concerned about the increase in attacks on the mountain and it is indeed regrettable that there has been a life lost. To this end, SANParks has in the meantime increased its security efforts further to what is already outlined in the Safety and Security Park Management Plan for Table Mountain National Park, and have increased our ranger deployment and utilised our dog unit consisting of 12 highly trained dogs patrolling an open access urban park,” he said.

Taahir Osman, founder of Take Back Our Mountains hikers crew, said: “I have seen they are doing patrols and muggers are caught the same day. Furthermore there are not enough visible rangers on the mountains.”

SANParks has co-ordinated with the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement, traffic department, fire and rescue services, Metro police, SAPS, Metro rescue and Wilderness Search and Rescue, Disaster Management, Table Mountain National Park volunteers,safety and civics and private security to have safer trails with the assistance of hikers.

Police have arrested perpetrators suspected of being responsible for the incident that took place on January 13, in the Silvermine section of the park during which five people were stabbed, and nine robbed.

The Cape Times reports that two men had appeared in court in connection with this hiking trail robbery.

The suspects, two men, aged 18 and 32, were arrested on February 11 on initial charges of robbery with a weapon other than a firearm, following the release of two identikits compiled by police.

They appeared in the Muizenberg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday February 13 and remain in custody.

Safety tips for hikers:

Never run, hike or cycle alone.

Plan your route from start to end and choose your route according to the ability ,fitness and experience of the group, this would prevent potential injuries.

Inform someone about your exact route as well as your expected time of return and stick to the route and plan.

Always be prepared for bad weather, that is take proper waterproof clothing even on a sunny day; torches with spare batteries and bulbs; strong boots or shoes with non-slip soles; food and water; a rucksack to carry all of it in so that your arms and hands are free.

Undertake your activity with somebody who knows the way and carry a guide book, map or route description. A registered guide is recommended.

Keep to the designated routes on well-used paths. Heed signs advising of danger and do not take short cuts or unknown routes.

Be wary of suspicious people who may pose as hikers.

Save the following emergency numbers: 086 110 6417 and 021 480 7700.