Since April 10, 2020, a total of seven people have been caught illegally accessing CapeNature reserves for hiking and other outdoor activities. This is a violation of lockdown regulations, as no one is allowed to leave their home except to access emergency services or purchase essential items.
“A number of incidents occurred within one week and trespassers were caught at various places within the Cederberg-Wilderness reserve,” said CapeNature spokesperson Petro Van Rhyn in a statement.
According to Van Rhyn, CapeNature takes trespassing very seriously and even more so during lockdown. “We work very closely with SAPS ensuring that the transgressors are charged and fined for not adhering to the COVID-19 regulations and the Conservation Ordinance,” she said.
“A fine of R2 000 is payable to CapeNature for accessing the protected area whilst being closed if it is a first offence. For a second transgression a person can get a fine of up to R40 000 and/or one year imprisonment.”
Each person caught entering CapeNature reserves during lockdown will be fined R2500 by SAPS. “If it is a second transgression arrest and imprisonment could follow,” Van Rhyn said.
“The local community also alerts CapeNature if they see illegal trespassers entering the reserve. Although the reserves are closed for the public, it is still adequately manned by CapeNature staff during lockdown and they patrol the reserves regularly.”
Van Rhyn added that CapeNature is closed to the public during lockdown, as well as its contractors and service providers. “Only CapeNature staff is allowed on all the reserves. Hence, no permits are issued during this time. Trespassers are contravening State of Disaster Regulations and the Conservation Ordinance. Furthermore, CapeNature staff and the larger local community are put at risk, by the increased chance of exposure to the virus.”
Members of the public are encouraged to report any sightings of people breaking COVID-19 regulations to Reserve Management, as well as the COVID-19 National Crisis Helpline on 0861 322 322 and/or to lay official complaints at SAPS or the Western Cape Provincial Government on 0860 142 142.