Many hiking groups have noted an increase in crime in Table Mountain National Park since as early as 2004, and popular hiking spot Newlands Forest has been earmarked as a crime hotspot.

Hiking and nature awareness authority Parkscape said it was alerted to vehicle break-ins which reportedly took place at Newlands Forest on Wednesday, June 19. According to sources, car guards were present when the incident transpired, but this did not stop the brazen criminals.

“Parkscape with regards to theft and break-ins in Newlands/Cecilia Forest, please direct your query to the City of Cape Town as the land is managed by the City and not that of SANParks,” SANParks said in a Facebook comment on a Parkscape post alerting hikers to the incident. 

Parkscape’s post reads: “The buffer zone areas of Table Mountain National Park have proved to be increasingly unsafe over the last eight years, with three murders, multiple stabbings and rapes, and many muggings occurring. With only 52 rangers (some with dogs) to patrol the 221-square-kilometre park, it is clear that SANParks are unable – or unwilling – to adequately police the Park. Focus tends to be placed on only some of the known hotspots, yet equally that focus appears to be significant in summer i.e. the tourist months, and drops off over the winter months. The Mountain Club of South Africa has also expressed concerns about incidents that occur higher up the mountain.

“The presence of vagrants and communities living within the Park, whom SANParks often fail to manage, does not help; nor does the failure to maintain vigilance for drug and alcohol usage in obvious places. A recent patrol through Lower Tokai, by way of example, revealed signs of human habitation, drug and alcohol use. Walkers regularly report suspicious sightings.”

How to stay safe while hiking:

– Never hike, run, cycle etc. alone – four or more is an ideal size for a party

– Plan your route from start to end and choose the route according to the ability, fitness and experience of the group. This will prevent potential injury

– Inform someone exactly which route you are taking as well as your expected time of return, and stick to this route and plan

– Always go prepared for bad weather. Take proper weatherproof clothing even on a sunny day (wind- and rainproof); torches with spare batteries and globes; good footwear – strong boots or shoes with non-slip soles; food; water; a flask of tea or some other beverage; and a rucksack to carry it all in to leave your arms and hands free

– Go with someone who knows the way and carry a guidebook, map or route description. A registered guide is recommended as well

– Keep to the designated routes on well-used paths. Heed danger signs and do not take short cuts or unknown routes

– Leave valuables like cash and cameras behind.

Picture: SANParks

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