Mountain muggings: 'You're largely on your own out there, don't retaliate'
As access to national parks opened up under relaxed lockdown regulations, hikers and bikers have once again been confronted with the threat of crime in the mountains. (You may now exercise in a group with three other people)
Outdoor correspondent Jeff Ayliffe notes that in the Table Mountain National Park, there have been recent incidents at Silvermine, Steenberg and the Pipe Track.
#mugging on the Pipe track today at about 11h30. Single man threatened a hiking couple with a screwdriver and threatened to kill them if they did not hand over all their valuables. Two cellphones taken. 200 m along the track South from Kloof Nek. Left victim with his car keys— Mountain Safety (@SafetyMountain) June 13, 2020
On the Garden Route, mountain bikers were also held up by armed assailants recently.
Ayliffe interviews Andre Van Schalkwyk, Mountain Rescue member and former chairperson of Table Mountain Watch.
There is no lasting solution to this crime problem in the national park despite many attempt to address this issue with SANParks.Andre Van Schalkwyk, Mountain Rescue member and former chair - Table Mountain Watch
They agree that while every situation is different, the line of least resistance is the "best" option.
The bottom line is that you're largely on your own out there and what do you do if you're suddenly faced with an armed assailant?Andre Van Schalkwyk, Mountain Rescue member and former chair - Table Mountain Watch
Every situation is very different... but history has shown that unless you are a trained security person, resistance can often lead to tragedy.Jeff Ayliffe, Outdoor correspondent
Sometimes just calling someone a derogatory name can produce an unexpected and very violent result... As a result we've always maintained that it's safer to remain as calm as possible, to comply and hand over your stuff and negotiate your way out of trouble - keep yourself and the members of your group as safe as possible.Andre Van Schalkwyk, Mountain Rescue member and former chair - Table Mountain Watch
Consider ahead of time what decisions you would take in a sudden conflict situation where your mind will probably have gone blank, says van Schalkwyk.
And, importantly, discuss this with the members of your group.
He lists the kinds of questions you have to consider:
It's a very violent and very fluid event, so do you have a plan? Have you communicated that plan to everyone in your group? What decisions are you going to make? Have you been in a similar situation before? Who are you dealing with - is this a hardened criminal or an amateur? Are there more than one of them, what's their real intent?Andre Van Schalkwyk, Mountain Rescue member and former chair - Table Mountain Watch
Are you armed with some kind of lethal or non-lethal weapon? Pepper spray to a knife fight might not make a lot of sense. Do you even have time to use it, is it even accessible? Are you very comfortable using the weapon of your choice if you insist on going into a situation like this?Andre Van Schalkwyk, Mountain Rescue member and former chair - Table Mountain Watch
Another consideration - how far away from help are you? And do you even have the right equipment with you to stop a massive bleed if someone gets stabbed really badly?Andre Van Schalkwyk, Mountain Rescue member and former chair - Table Mountain Watch
Listen to the advice in the audio below: (skip to 1:07)
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