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Lobby group calls for beefed-up Table Mountain security as muggings continue

Lobby group calls for beefed-up Table Mountain security as muggings continue
Illustrative image: Criminal attacks on visitors on Table Mountain continue. (Photos: Gallo Images / Nardus Engelbrecht | Samane Jnr Marks)

Demanding increased safety and security in Table Mountain National Park, Friends of Table Mountain gathered outside Parliament to hand over a petition to the minister of forestry, fisheries and the environmen, calling for ‘better safety measures’.

On Thursday evening, 15 February 2024, about 20 Capetonians led by the Friends of Table Mountain (FOTM) gathered outside Parliament to hand over the petition.

The organisation has been calling for robust monitoring methods and effective deployment of ranger resources amid a marked surge in criminal activity on the mountain range in recent months. 

The group’s main demand is for SANParks to enhance the visibility of ranger policing on the mountain. 

The petition consists of three demands:

  • Immediate recruitment and implementation of a robust monitoring method to deploy ranger resources effectively in the field;
  • Security infrastructure: Develop a long-term plan for installing a comprehensive camera network at critical access points and evaluating potential enhancements to prevent criminal ingress and egress at hotspots; and
  • A collaborative security plan: SANParks must take accountability for Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) safety by collaborating with all law enforcement authorities, including the SAPS, City of Cape Town Law Enforcement and provincial authorities to create a long-term security plan.

TMNP has been plagued by muggings and assaults in recent months, and despite the deployment of intensified resources to boost safety and patrols, the attacks have continued into 2024. Recently reported muggings included eight in December and nine in January, according to unofficial statistics from FOTM. 

Chairperson of FOTM Andy Davies said TMNP “will always suffer from crime as it is an open-access park within a city”.

However, Davies said this should not be an excuse to tolerate crime on the mountain. “It’s time Capetonians stand up and demand safety for everyone to enjoy using the park without fearing for their lives.” 

While addressing the small crowd outside Parliament, he said they are incredibly blessed to have a mountain in the middle of the city where “we can relax and savour the feeling of freedom and fresh air”.

David Bryant, the DA’s forestry, fisheries and environmental affairs spokesperson, accepted the petition in the absence of Minister Barbara Creecy. He told the crowd he would ensure it gets to the hands of the minister. 

Speaking to Daily Maverick, he said solving the mugging problem is not just about providing more boots on the ground. “It lies in ensuring that the deployed ground forces are properly trained and equipped.” 

Bryant said proper results can be achieved only if the security operators within the city of Cape Town are linked to work together to make a difference.

Daily Maverick sent a request to Creecy’s office for comment on their no-show for the petition handover, but no response had been received by the time of publication. 

Recent attacks 

On 21 January, a suspected mugger fell to his death with stolen possessions after ambushing a hiking group heading past Slangolie Ravine, according to a News24 report.

Read more in Daily Maverick : Table Mountain muggings continue despite intensified safety and security measures

In another incident on the same day, two men reportedly robbed and attempted to rape two tourists – a Japanese and a Dutch citizen – on the Slangolie section. The tourists were robbed of their phones and jewellery. One was injured and received medical assistance. 

A suspect was arrested on Lion’s Head in connection with the incident, and later charged with two counts of robbery, two counts of attempted rape and one of assault. The other suspect is still at large. 

Step up action 

Alick Kapito from Dunoon told Daily Maverick outside Parliament that change would come with everyone playing their part in finding a solution to stop the mountain muggings. “It’s time for all mountain users to stand their ground so that we can all enjoy using the trails without fear.” 

It was imperative to safeguard our natural heritage, said Taahir Osman, founder of Take Back Our Mountain (TBOM), an organisation that arranges secure hikes and runs in all high-risk areas in the TMNP.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Table Mountain muggings: How do you secure a national park with 850km of trails?

“We recognise that the crime prevention mechanisms within Table Mountain National Park are outdated and necessitate dedicated and highly trained law enforcement personnel.”

All these measures should be coupled with ongoing vigilance to guarantee “the safety of both residents and the sustenance of our thriving tourism industry”.

Increased effort, questionable impact

The spate of muggings continues despite SANParks reviving the Table Mountain National Park Safety and Security Forum, which includes SANParks, the SAPS and the City of Cape Town, and devoting additional resources to boost safety on the mountain.

In December 2023, SANParks committed to improving safety in the national park. This followed a protest by Friends of Lion’s Head (FOLH) calling for an increase in the budget for security to protect mountain users. 

The committee’s main objective then was to lobby for SANParks to manage the park better and deploy more quality resources to ensure safety along the trail. 

But a critical part of the problem is the lack of a strategy that harnesses and jointly deploys the capability and capacity of public service departments, said crime expert Eldred de Klerk. 

“A lack of joint strategy and joined-up communications have us, both public and private agencies, miss the benefit of working together to the same strategic and operational objectives which we do quite well after something has happened,” he told Daily Maverick. 

He said authorities must sit at the same table and then leave the table to work separately on their own operational objectives knowing “we are an information-starved society – starved of vital information needed to make informed decisions”.

Stats for Table Mountain crime 

The petition handed over to Parliament comes in the wake of a recorded 309 crime incidents, which include muggings, attempted muggings, car break-ins and stabbings, between 2018 and 2023.

According to unofficial stats from FOTM, there were more than 80 muggings on Table Mountain, Signal Hill and Lion’s Head in 2023. 

Other crime hotspots in the park are Lion’s Head, Slangolie Ravine, Tafelberg Road and Vredehoek Quarry. 

Safety tips

Recommended safety tips for mountain users include: 

  • Report suspicious behaviour or fires being set;
  • Always be aware of your surroundings;
  • Tell someone reliable where you are going;
  • Know your access and escape routes; and
  • Hike in groups.

If you feel threatened or uncomfortable on the mountain, call the City’s emergency line on 021 480 7700. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Brandon VE says:

    Curious to know where the suspects that were arrested live.

  • Tim Price says:

    As long as SANP underfunds TMNP as it has done for years, proper maintenance and management of the Park will simply not happen. When approached for help, TMNP usually cry about being underfunded and do nothing, hence civil societies attempts to help, some of which are met with a shrug.

  • Random Comment says:

    Crime is out of control in the Southern Suburbs adjacent to the mountain – the neighborhood WhatsApp groups and residents group emails report incidents on an almost daily basis, as do the cycling websites / boards.

    There are vagrants, bergies, skollies, crazies and druggies living everywhere – as an avid trail runner, hiker and cyclist, I see their mess all along the once-pristine green belt. I fear that we are on the verge of losing a national treasure, permanently.

    In an election year, will any political party stand up for by-law enforcement and the rights of local residents, ratepayers and the users of the mountain? It would appear that law-abiding taxpayers have no rights, and that they simply have to keep quiet and watch the destruction of a world heritage site.

  • td _a says:

    the actual problem here is poverty – these are vagrants & chancers coming from the Flats/gugs/kayalitsha looking for soft targets.
    sort poverty out on the Flats & the mountain will be sorted.
    the CT townships really are a ticking time bomb

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