Hiking is permitted under Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown. Certain national parks across the Cape have reopened for day visitors while others have remained closed. Unfortunately, with an increase in foot traffic, there has been an increase in crime.
SANParks has stipulated that Silvermine Gate 1 & 2, Cape Point, Boulders Beach, Upper Tokai, Lion’s Head and all picnic areas remain closed under Level 3.
Take Back Our Mountains, a community Facebook page dedicated to informing the public on incidents and other happenings, has noted an increase in criminal activity. Taahir Osman, founder of the page, spoke to Cape Town Etc about two recent incidents.
On Tuesday [June 9] a woman was robbed of her camera and allegedly assaulted between the parking lot and waterfall at Silvermine’s Gate 2. Osman explained on the TBOM Facebook page that the areas closed to the public are unmanned by SANParks rangers as their presence is required in areas open to the public.
“A woman got mugged at Silvermine’s Gate 2, her camera was taken and she was assaulted on Tuesday around 11am midway between the parking lot and Silvermine’s waterfall,” said Osman. “The area is currently closed under Level 3 but people are not obeying the regulations.”
On Saturday [June 13] a couple were also mugged.
“Around 11.30am on Saturday, a couple got robbed of their cellphone around the start of the Pipe Track trail.” This track is a particularly popular trail for its views.
Safety tips for hikers:
Osman explained that to avoid further incidents, people need to abide by the rules of lockdown and avoid closed trails.
“Hikers should stay away from the closed trails under Level 3 and should not hike alone.”
He stressed the importance of reporting suspicious behaviour to SANParks. “Be mindful. We will have a spike in crime and it can happen anywhere on Table Mountain National Park.”
Osman also highlighted the importance of social distancing and other measures that must be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Hikers should do the necessary screening before hiking and mask up when passing other hikers. Carry sanitizer if there are parts of the trail that require you to use your hands.”
Osman said that he has started a Whatsapp group for hiking, trail running and mountain biking clubs to join in and to be the eyes and ears of SANParks.
“The more legs on the mountains that can report in the WhatsApp group suspicious characters, the quicker the rangers can be deployed to that specific area. The struggle we have is the parks are 225 square kilometers open access, hopefully with support of park users it will cover more ground on safety.”
Cape Town Etc reached out to SANParks for comment but did not hear back in time of publication.
Image: Facebook/ Taahir Osman/ Take Back Our Mountains