Read about the latest stats on Google Groups of incidents of attacks on hikers. Before you read these stats (shown below), thanks to an email from Tony Heher of Cape Town Hiking Club, this is what I would like to add to the subject of Crime and Self Defense whilst Hiking:
I say, unless you like to hike dressed like our friend above:
- Do not expect to be 'safe' when you go hiking, especially in areas that are surrounded by typical squatting type communities or low income housing. These areas generally are filled with opportunistic criminals mainly due to poverty. (which is most of Table Mountain in this case).
- Take along a shocker (GREAT for chasing away baboons and monkeys). When you get approached by a criminal, baboon or monkey, snap the shocker to make them aware that you have 'safety gear'.
- Pepper Spray: apparently this does not work too well if your criminal uses it for pleasurable rush to his head on 'off days'. Its possible, but I would rather have it than not have it. Just make sure you have it replaced with a 'fresh' one at least 1/year.
- Gun: if you have one, take one. The legal ramifications is your problem if you use it - of course.
- Knife: if you know how to use a knife, like maybe you might have done some sort of self-defense course, then take one. I learnt how to use a knife - and trust me, its NOT like cutting a nice piece of cheese :)
- Bottom line: whatever you take to protect yourself with - make sure it is within arms length (not like me, at the bottom of my backpack!). My hiking partner (he is such a winner!) ALWAYS takes his shocker and his pepper spray - both are in his back pockets. I always complain that it makes it difficult for me to touch his cute bum. Then I get a grumpy mumble of some sort in return about another lecture on safety. Love it! He is so cute when he grumbles like that :)
- Dogs: your pet is a great deterrent for wanna-be criminals.
- Lastly: Know your gear! if you don't know how to use it - tried and tested - then why do you have it? Consider to go on a self defense course, or go to an open field - please make sure its on a windless day, and test your pepper spray, shoot your gun. Know how it works. How far does your item reach - what are the sounds that it makes - familiarise yourself with how it feels in your hand - know where the trigger button is - how messy is the real deal? Don't be intimated by your own forms of self defense, because trust me, when someone else pulls out a weapon, you are going to WANT to have learnt how to use your own gear, to protect yourself and your fellow hikers.
- Some easy tips for you to consider if you dont have some sort of weapon:
- Elbow is strongest bone in your body. Use it.
- Knee the person in the groin / or the face / side of leg / stomach / ribs / you name it.
- Fingers are excellent to poke into someones eyes.
- Sand is great to throw into someones face.
- Scream - try to let others hear you or know.
- Attitude is vital. If you show you are scared, you will be walked over and even maybe raped. If you show aggression, you might be attacked out of pure adrenalin. Stay calm and think clearly of the points above. I know its horrible to consider these factors, but spend some time alone, visualize how you will deal with an attacker one day, what kind of weapon will you use, how will you use it etc.
- When you are done with overpowering your attacker - with whatever you chose to do to eliminate the ordeal - RUN away as fast as you can! if and when they contain themselves, make sure you are not around for their crazy minds to take over and do something stupid again.
Updated Incidents (February 2010)
Signal Hill / (Lions Head is ontop of Signal Hill): (Sunday Feb 14 to Tuesday Feb 16 2010)
Four tourists were robbed there in just three days this week :
- An American man was robbed and apparently injured with a pair of scissors on Sunday morning (14th). R400 was taken. The victim was attacked with a white-handled pair of scissors, causing cuts on both hands.
- A group of three students, studying English at a local language school, were robbed on Tuesday night (16th). A group of three men stepped from behind a tree and threatened to kill them unless they handed over their belongings. Money, cellphones, cameras and watches were stolen. "It was very fast, I think less than a minute. “
Sandy Bay (Saturday 16 Jan 2010 20:30)
ROBBERY – Rocket Road
- Black Male +/- 20 years old threatens walker with a knife. Suspect asks walker to hand over his cellphone and wallet. Walker says no and fight breaks out whereupon suspect stabs the walker in the back and arm and hits him on the head with a rock. Walker taken to Constantiaberg.
ROBBERY Tuesday 2 Feb 2010 14:17 – Sandy Bay (path to Llandudno) -
- Two lady tourists mugged on Sandy Bay beach close to the Llandudno footpath by a group of five males 3 Black males (one in a red sleeveless top and shorts) and 2 coloured males last seen heading toward Kerzner Est. Good response by HBNW, SSP's, Herzner guards and SAPS
Karbonkelberg (Hout Bay): (Friday 8 Jan 19:30)
ROBBERY – Karbonkelberg – CAS 9/1/2010
- 3 colored males, one with a golf club and another with a (toy?) firearm hold up a party of 3 hiking on the Karbonkelberg. They took camera and cellphones. Suspects pepper sprayed by one of the complainants. Mountain was searched by police. Suspects also set fire to the mountain (no case of arson from saps) resulting in helicopter services being activated for many hours, including the next day. All 3 arrested?
Year 2009 Incidents:
Silvermine East: 2 Attacks.
- Saturday 23 May 2009: 2 hikers held up & robbed at Amphitheater at about 2.30 or 3pm. Firearm involved.
- Weekend 16/17 May 2009: Attack in the Waterfall area. No further details.
- Sunday, October 19, 2008 19h42 Mugging earlier at Sandy Bay by a group of 4 Bravo males that take off with a bag. Victim reported to be heading to the CSC to lay charges. 19h55 ADT6 detains a matching set of Bravo males with “the bag” at Victoria traffic lights. SAPS asked to attend. 20h22 Long story but as the ‘victims’ never arrived at the CSC, suspects are released to shop another day.
- Friday, February 27, 2009 18h24 Elderly tourist couple mugged, robbed and tied up on Rocket Rd above the dunes. HBNW respond. Two knife wielding Bravo males, one taller than the other carrying a backpack in which the knives were concealed.
- Sunday May 10, 2009 09h22. Serious incident (rape) at Sandy Bay. Suspect Charlie male, 40 yrs old short/stocky wearing black cycle shorts and a white t-shirt, may be well known in HB. Extensive 3 hour search, nothing found.
- Follow-up to 10 May incident: Sandy Bay - Hout Bay police have arrested a man in connection with the rape of a 50-year old woman on a Llandudno beach at the weekend. Lesch said police had made another arrest last night - a man in his late thirties - in connection with the incident. She said the man had initially only been taken in for questioning.
- Beware also Rhodes Memorial area where bicycle riders are targeted from time to time. Last incident in this area was in March 2009.
Good luck! any other advice from the readers will be great?