[imagesource: Armand Hough / African News Agency]
Capetonians are often quite lazy when it comes to making the most of our beautiful city, so it has been heartening to see the relaxation of lockdown measures leading to an increase in activities like hiking.
Sadly, it’s also a reality that we need to prepare for the worst-case scenario, with muggings (and, in some cases, deadly attacks) occurring on many of the peninsula’s hiking routes.
There have been a number of incidents this month already, with members of the public on Table Mountain National Park’s Silvermine, Steenberg, and the Pipe Track routes all falling victim.
Jeff Ayliffe, CapeTalk’s resident outdoor correspondent, recently sought the advice of Andre Van Schalkwyk, a Mountain Rescue member and former chairperson of Table Mountain Watch.
Van Schalkwyk stressed that often “the line of least resistance is the ‘best’ option”, because help isn’t going to arrive and you’re on your own up there:
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.
He added that groups of hikers should discuss what they would do in the case of a mugging before the hike begins to ensure they’re on the same page, and to avoid panic setting in.
Hikers should also consider the following questions:
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?
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?
That’s a fair amount to think about, which is again why that pre-hike chat may be necessary.
Finally, if you choose to meet force with force, and somebody in the hiking group ends up being hurt, do you have the necessary measures to stop someone from bleeding out, or other life-saving measures that need to be implemented?
We’re all tired of being sitting ducks, and allowing criminals to get their way, but my health is ultimately worth far more than whatever I would hand over to avoid being stabbed, or worse.
How one reacts is a personal choice, but again, the experts lean towards ‘the path of least resistance’.
You can listen to Jeff and Andre’s advice in full from around the 1:30 mark below, through to the 5:45 mark:
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