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‘Innovative’ ideas to keep Cape mountain users safe – MEC

‘Innovative’ ideas to keep Cape mountain users safe – MEC

Cape Town – Some innovative ideas have been put on the table for improving the safety and security of mountain users in the Western Cape following a meeting between high-ranking officials.

A number of people, including tourists, have recently been mugged within the Table Mountain National Park, the rest of the metro, and the province. Hikers who get lost or run into trouble with the terrain are also rescued at regular intervals.

Proposals included using social media, tour guides, cameras and drones in different ways to assist those in need, Tourism MEC Alan Winde told News24 on Monday. He said another idea was to maybe develop a new mobile application.
Winde said his meeting with community safety counterpart Dan Plato, the Table Mountain Safety Forum and Pedal Power Association last week “went quite well”.

He said there was an agreement to reinvigorate the Table Mountain Safety Forum, as it hadn’t been meeting as often as it used to.
“The one grouping that couldn’t be there on Friday was Table Mountain [National Park]. Of course we will have a further meeting with the park as the core stakeholder. That is all in the process of putting forward a plan of what is going to be done.”

Plato’s office confirmed he had met to discuss issues including the safety of people in public spaces, specifically tourists or visitors.

“From the meeting various possible initiatives were discussed, including making extra safety officers available to help SANParks,” his spokesperson, Ewald Botha, said.

“Any and all proposals will have to be presented, considered and decided upon by the relevant authorities responsible for safety and for Table Mountain.”

On Saturday, cyclists were mugged and had two bicycles stolen at Black Hill, which lies close to Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town, said Table Mountain Watch’s Andre van Schalkwyk.

He said on Monday that the mugging occurred just outside of the TMNP’s borders, but he did not have much more information.

The provincial police did not confirm whether a case had been opened.

Just over a week ago, two young, and obviously fit, muggers brazenly ran down a Lion’s Head trail in broad daylight, stopping groups of tourists along the way to steal their belongings before carrying on.

One of the victims claimed that they had trouble getting through to the police’s national toll-free number, and that the operator did not know where Lion’s Head was.

Van Schalkwyk said he had told Plato’s office that should the safety forum be reinvigorated, it needed to be properly run and controlled by an MEC or representative.

“We also need to involve city officials on the forum, as well as Cape Town tourism,” he said. He recalled that a few years ago the process for helping tourists who had run into trouble was a “well-oiled machine”.

Winde said a number of parties played a part in security. The TMNP had its own rangers and dog handlers, but there were also 14 police stations around the reserve, with the metro police and community watches also involved.

A number of proposals involved how to get extra manpower on the mountain, as well as empowering the public to become “the eyes and ears” of what was happening, he added. – Jenna Etheridge, News24