The South African National Parks (SANParks) is urging its visitors to be extra vigilant when hiking along the scenic trails in and around Cape Town, following a spate of criminal activity within recent weeks. This includes hikers going missing, being robbed or attacked, as well as visitors committing environmental offences such as littering and sound pollution.
Following the discovery of the body of the missing 69-year-old man, SANParks Acting Head of Communications, Rey Thakhuli has expressed great concern for hikers who opt to go solo.
“The issue of people going missing is of concern to us. We often advise people not to go hiking by themselves because of the vastness of the area. We had to look for the 69-year-old for the entire week in quite a big and lush area,” he said.
“If they are by themselves, its’s not easy for people to recognize that someone has gone missing until their families file a missing person report with police,” he elaborated.
“Please let someone know where you’re going or actually hike as a group of people, so that when something happens at least somebody knows where you are and what had happened, in order to alert the relevant authorities,” he urged.
Although missing people’s cases at the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) have been “isolated”, an increase in crime has become a pressing concern. Thakhuli said at least 90 marine-related arrests have been made since January 2021.
The spokesperson said that there has been more collaboration with and joint operations alongside officials from the City of Cape Town, SAPS, Metro police, private security companies and other units. He said that while there have been changes and arrests being made; “(we) can do better”.
He encouraged hikers to obey protocols such as wearing their masks and maintaining social distancing. Although you shouldn’t be going alone, do not exceed hiking groups of more than 100 max and make use of frequented routes. Thakhuli emphasised that Bluetooth speakers and similar devices are NOT allowed and urged hikers to “respect other users”.
With crime being of great concern, Thakhuli said hikers should refrain from bringing along expensive equipment that could lure criminals.
“We’ve really been pushing back. We encourage citizens in Cape Town, not to carry their valuables up the mountain. As I said- walk in numbers and make sure somebody knows where you are,” he reiterated.
Thakhuli shared the opinion of dozens of crime experts and civil rights movements, in that tackling crime requires a holistic approach. He explained that dealing with crime outside the park, will help reduce crime within it.
nsuspecting tourists are also prime targets, given their approach to hiking as a recreational activity.
“Crime is everybody’s concern. We should, together, as citizens of South Africa and Cape Town to fight these kinds of things. Crime needs to be fought from where we live. Most of the time we know people that are committing crimes, but we are too afraid to speak out against them.”
TMNP Manager, Frans van Rooyen, meanwhile noted that an announcement will soon be made about when the dam will reopen to the public.
Listen to the full conversation here: