SANParks beefs up security to protect Table Mountain trails
This initiative aims to bolster the protection of popular hiking trails and natural areas.
Key to this plan is the revived TMNP Safety and Security Forum, comprising SANParks, the South African Police Service (SAPS), and the City of Cape Town (CoCT).
This collaboration has already led to six successful arrests since the start of the festive season campaign.
Adding to the security measures, about 70 Tourism Monitors, supported by the Department of Tourism, will be deployed starting 15 December 2023.
These monitors will augment the physical presence on the trails, enhancing visitor safety.
Furthermore, SANParks employs 112 rangers in TMNP, including 15 members of the special operations Sea, Air, and Mountain team (SEAM).
This unit, equipped with a K9 unit of six trained dogs and a specialised operations centre, covers various functions from visitor safety to search and rescue operations and tackling wildlife crimes like abalone poaching.
In addition to the human presence, SANParks plans to employ technological measures such as drone surveillance to monitor threats, detect fires, and assist in rescue operations.
Vessel patrols will also be active in the Marine Protected Areas, and to handle fire emergencies, 580 contracted crew members are on standby at Newlands and Kloofnek fire bases.
The unique geographical setting of TMNP, surrounded by dense urban areas and offering open access with multiple entry points, presents a challenge for security.
The open-access nature, while allowing free entry to the public, also makes it vulnerable to criminal activities. On 25 November 2023, during the RMB Ultra-Trail Cape Town event, on Saturday, three runners were mugged on a trail near Ocean View.
A week before that incident, British elite runner Tom Evans was attacked near the King’s Blockhouse while preparing for the event.
Tahir Osman from Take Back Our Mountains points out that muggings have escalated since March, with Signal Hill and Lion’s Head being the most affected areas.
There have been reports of various robberies, including an incident involving a paraglider witnessing a mugging.
One of the earliest victims of the Table Mountain hiking trail robberies, Nick Frischke, is still missing, with several suspects linked to his disappearance in police custody.
From what we understand, Frischke’s case is being treated as a murder without a body.