Muggers come out to prey as hikers return to Table Mountain

Hikers looking forward to hitting the Table Mountain trails this summer have been advised to constantly look over their shoulders.

Muggers have laid siege to Newlands Ravine – a gorge between Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain — since the beginning of last month‚ and on Thursday two groups of hikers were robbed of their clothing‚ shoes and cellphones.

Western Cape police spokesman Captain Frederick van Wyk said four suspects‚ aged between 20 and 27‚ were arrested shortly afterwards‚ while the fifth escaped with the victims’ cellphones and cash.

“Members recovered belongings of the victims [clothing and takkies] in possession of the four suspects and also found one silver flick knife‚ car-breaking implements and one large self-made Allen key in possession of the suspects‚” said Van Wyk.

“The victims identified their belongings and pointed out the suspects to the police‚ and their belongings were handed back to them. Three of the four victims‚ between the ages of 31 and 58‚ were treated for injuries at the offices of the Table Mountain National Park. The 58-year-old man was later taken to a nearby hospital for further medical treatment.”

Other hikers have not been as lucky. Allan Dillon‚ owner of the Mountain Men security company‚ said his guards had attended to three mugging incidents this year‚ including a fatal incident above Kalk Bay in March. He said the problem was compounded by the fact that parts of Table Mountain National Park had no cellphone coverage.

“It’s nice to have a number that you can dial‚ but if you have no signal it’s not going to help you at all‚” said Dillon.

“We have advised people to go in a group‚ although groups are now being attacked by small groups of criminals. There was an incident where two muggers took on a group of about eight people.”

André van Schalkwyk‚ chairman of the Table Mountain Security Group‚ said the muggers had targeted lone hikers in four incidents since the beginning of September.

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