While enjoying a hike along Skeleton Gorge on Sunday, February 2, locals were allegedly followed by a suspicious man who appears to have been sleeping on the trail and waiting for someone to prey on.
Resident Daniel Sheard says his sister’s hiking group passed the man on the jeep tracks just before Skeleton Gorge. They greeted him and walked past him but it appeared as though he had been sleeping just a few minutes earlier. A few minutes later the group stopped for water and noticed the man was following them and appeared to stop and watch them.
The ladies in Sheard’s sister’s group became concerned as he continued to follow them as they hiked higher. His sister called him at this point when he suggested they join a larger group if they could find one.
“I told her to join any groups of hikers and let them know what was happening and walked up with them as a group. They then joined a large group of hikers who was being led by a horticulturalist and said they felt safe but the guy kept following them. He then decided to speed past them continue up the trail ahead and he seemed to have disappeared,” says Sheard.
The group managed to snap a picture of the man. He is described as having dark dreaded hair, a tanned complexion and a beard. The suspicious man started following them once again.
“On reaching the top of the gorge he was nowhere to be seen. However, as the girls and group continued to walk on in the direction of Maclears where he appeared and followed once again – this time asking if they wanted to join for a swim. This pushed things too far and hysterical screaming began, begging him to leave them alone. More hikers joined the group after hearing the commotion. He told the hikers he was their “friend and tour guide” – a clear lie,” adds Sheard.
After a number of hikers confronted the man, he turned around, went back down the mountain and left the group alone. The hikers are unsure what the man’s intentions were but he gave them a very uncomfortable feeling and repeatedly ignored requests from the women to be left alone. Hikers say he appears to have abused some substance and seemed mentally unstable.
Cape Town Etc contacted SANParks for more information regarding the man and it was confirmed that he has indeed been arrested and detained before and that they are on the lookout for this man who has allegedly bothered a number of hikers.
“Table Mountain National Park is aware of the suspicious individual that has been reported along the Skeleton Gorge area. We will increase visibility within the area and arrest him once spotted. We encourage the public to report these cases to our Visitor Safety Kloofnek Office: +27 (0)21 422 1601/02 or 086 110 6417,” says SANParks spokesperson, Lauren Clayton.
According to the Claremont Police Station the suspect was released with a warning to appear in court but successfully arrested again following another complaint.
“The suspect was arrested and charged to appeared in the Wynberg Court on January 12, 2020 and again on January 20. 2020 . He was released on a warning to appear in again in the Wynberg court on March 17 2020. The suspect was again involved in a similar incident, and a Public Indecency and Crimin Injuria case was opened on February 1 2020. The incident happened in Kirstenbosch Drive, Newlands and a female jogger was the complainant. The suspect was arrested on February 5 in Imam Haron street, Claremont. The suspect will again appear in Wynberg court on the 7th February 2020 Bail will be opposed by the Investigating Officer Detective Sgt Z Fungani,” says Station Commander Col M Louw.
SAPS ask that the public be always vigilant when walking alone in the forests, and always tried to walk in a groups.