SANParks launches its first annual safety and awareness campaign at Table Mountain National Park

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SANParks has launched its first annual safety and awareness campaign of the festive season at Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town. With a bumper tourist season on the cards for the Mother City, officials say they are already seeing a significant increase in visitor numbers.

The aim of the two-day campaign is to equip both locals and tourists with information to keep safe while enjoying the park’s natural splendour.

The iconic flat-topped mountain is undoubtedly the jewel in Cape Town’s tourism crown. Thousands of visitors flock here each year, to cycle, hike, and paraglide or just to drink in the breath-taking natural scenery. It’s not, however immune to incidents of criminality.

With Cape Town’s urban edge encroaching into the park, muggings on the mountain have been highlighted as a concern.

“We are basically advising people if they can, not to come up to the mountain in their vehicles, because we have had people breaking into their vehicles, and stealing their valuables. If they can make use of other forms of transport, and also if they hike, not carry valuables like iPhones, earrings, and cash on them. We would advise them to leave that at home and just come hike because that is what attracts criminals and they become victims of criminality,” says Wana Bacela the Area Manager of Table Mountain National Park.

Crime prevention

Twelve rangers are on duty in the northern section daily, along with environmental and tourism monitors. Various stakeholders including the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Metro police are partnering with SANParks in crime prevention.

Park authorities say they are also focusing on fire safety and other park-related issues.

“We have a problem with litter, also with people taking their radios up the mountain causing a nuisance to other people. Because when people come to the mountain they want peace, they want to heal from whatever that is they have a problem with. So when they come and hear the noise as if they are at a party it’s not nice for the other people. And also the injuries, you must wear the right shoes and also have water with you because now its summer, it’s hot so you must make sure that you are hydrated on the mountain,” says Mathabatha Matjila the Senior Section Ranger TMNP, north.

Local and international tourists, hungry for a normal holiday season, following the pandemic have welcomed the campaign.

“Maybe I have just been lucky but the areas that are hit by crime seem to be the ones more isolated with fewer people. This is a very well-frequented path so it’s very unlikely that you are going to encounter problems,” says Clive Mantle a Capetonian hiker.

“We’ve been to Robben Island, we’ve been to Cape of Good Hope yesterday, we have been to Sea Point, and we have also experienced the food. We have been here for a week now, we haven’t done enough and I doubt we can finish it in the next two days that we are here and we will definitely come back,” says Dennis Wainaina a Kenyan tourist.

“I’ve never had a problem up here, never, but it’s good that they are here because you have a lot of hikers coming here the first time going up there and you know it could be dangerous up there,” says Marten Kaehler a German tourist.

First-time hikers are being urged to wear the correct clothing and footwear when hiking, and also to make sure they remain hydrated.

VIDEO: South African National Parks Safety and Awareness Campaign kicks off