Cape Town - With the holiday season not even in full swing, a string of car burglaries at Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP) has hikers and tour operators worried. Several cars were broken into on Signal Hill Road near Lion’s Head.
The incident was recorded by a Cape Town resident, showing the windows of several vehicles smashed in, and has gone viral on TikTok.
A hiker, Iman Fredericks said: “I had just come down the mountain after my morning hike and arrived at my parking spot, when I noticed the vehicle next to mine had been broken into. I turned to look at the other vehicles, and sure enough, they too had smashed windows.
“I counted about six cars that had been broken into. It was terrible experiencing something like that. I know crime is no strange phenomenon, but I never thought I would come across something like this.
“It made me a nervous hiker, especially as in summer I tend to hike early before sunrise.”
Confirming the incident, TMNP said it would work with the police and other law-enforcement agencies to investigate and bring the perpetrators to book.
TMNP spokesperson Lauren Howard Clayton said: “We are aware of the car break-in incident which occurred just before the weekend along Signal Hill Road. The incident has been reported to the police in Cape Town and is under investigation.
“We would like to urge our users and visitors to the area to be on highalert during this time, and not leave any valuables lying around in their vehicles when carrying out their activities.”
Police spokesperson Frederick van Wyk said: “Cape Town police are investigating a case where a vehicle was broken into. The complainant reported their vehicle’s windows had been smashed, but that nothing was taken from the vehicle,” he said.
Non-profit company Take Back Our Mountains echoed the call by TMNP for hikers and mountain visitors to be careful while making use of TMN parks.
Founder Taahir Osman said: “We run two WhatsApp groups where we share essential safety updates and news about TMNP parks for hikers, assisted by a host of rangers who are out there every day.
“That’s how we came to know about the recent incident. Just a few days before, two or three cars were broken into at Cecilia Forest.”
Cape Town resident and avid hiker Andiswa Siwela said: “As someone who loves hiking on Lion’s Head, I’m now scared to go up there.”
Meanwhile, SANParks announced an encouraging development in its Sea, Air and Mountain (Seam) special operations initiative over the weekend.
TMNP park manager Frans van Rooyen reported the initiative’s first successful operation, which also featured an arrest.
Van Rooyen said: “We are grateful to have successes coming from the Seam operators in their first official
week of operation, and we will continue to focus on these urban-edge zones to ensure the safety of our visitors. We urge our surrounding communities to continue to help us in the fight to curb crime within and around TMNP.”
Friends of Table Mountain welcomed the arrest of the suspects and the initiation of SANParks and TMNP’s Seam safety initiative.
Chairperson Andy Davies said: “Crime unfolding at TMNP has a very negative impact on the institution. These incidents prove that there is a need for more resources to be directed at dealing with such issues.
“But we are also pleased the TMNP is making an effort to apprehend and hold accountable persons responsible… It’s a step in the right direction.”