With a spate of attacks on hikers in and around the Cape Town area, locals and visitors are being warned to avoid crime hot spots.
Last Sunday, a group of 11 hikers
were held at gunpoint by three armed attackers near Duiker Island, just off the coast of Hout Bay. The hikers were robbed of their possessions by three gun-wielding robbers. This is just one of many such incidents that have occurred on Cape Town’s hiking trails in recent months.
Rashaad Jakoet, head of Hikers Paradise Adventure Club, was part of the group walking along the path between Hout Bay and Sandy Beach, when they were approached by three armed men.
“They made off with a couple of bags and a cellphone,” Jakoet said, recalling the incident. “Some of the stuff they stole was found dumped along a path by men who came to our rescue.”
Fortunately, no one was injured in the attack, despite several shots being fired by the attackers.
“I was worried when some of the group began running towards the ocean,” he said. “The shoreline is rocky, and the waves were big and harsh that day. I was worried someone might drown.”
Jakoet said the attackers did not assault them. Wilderness search and Rescue (WSAR) and South African Police Services (SAPS) came to their rescue. No arrests have been made yet.
“Some group members are taking the ordeal quite badly,” he said. “Some have spaced out at work, others weren’t answering text messages… I think everyone just needed a bit of time to get back to every day life.”
HIKER’S MUST FOLLOW THESE SAFETY GUIDELINES:
Taahir Osman, spokesperson of the ‘Take Back Our Mountains’ hikers safety initiative, advises hikers to avoid the Simons Town, Kalkbay, Silvermine, Tokai and Hout Bay areas, as these have become a hotbed of criminal activity. Karbonkelberg has also recently been identified as a hot spot for attacks.
“Choose trails such as the Lion’s Head, Platteklip Gorge and Constantia Nek trails,” Osman said. “These trails are busy, and that affords more safety.”
Osman advised hikers not to resist handing their valuables over, if they find themselves in that situation. This may be the difference between life and death as attackers may do physical harm if met with resistance.
It is also safer for hikers to walk trails in a larger group. Many hiking groups host large group hikes on a monthly basis, such as Take Back Our Mountains.
Check their Facebook page to see when the next group hike will take place.
THESE APPS ARE DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR HIKER SAFETY:
There are several apps and resources available to keep hikers safe.
The Shake2Alert app must be activated before you begin your hike. When danger occurs, you simply shake your smartphone. Within three seconds, an alert is sent out to a list of pre-selected emergency contacts. At the same time, the smartphone’s video and audio functions are activated and stored on the app’s Cloud storage. In the case of an attack, this audio and video footage may be used to identify the suspect.
The service costs R30 on a monthly subscription, and R240 on an annual subscription.
The Safety Mountain Tracking WhatsApp Group works in a similar fashion. Before setting off on a hike, alert the group of the hike and start time. If you do not return by a projected time, emergency services are deployed to the area.
Hikers are also encouraged to contact emergency services when they are in danger, such as Metro Police on 021 948 9900, or WSAR Mountain Rescue on 021 937 0300.